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Young Tripoli crash survivor says he's 'fine' and 'wants to go home'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-14

Nine-year-old Dutch boy Ruben van Assouw, the sole survivor of the May 12 plane crash in Libya that killed 103 people, has told a Dutch newspaper that he was "fine" and just wants to go home.

AFP - The Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of a Libyan plane crash that killed more than 100 people said he is in a lot of pain but keen to go home, in his first comments on Friday since the disaster.
  
Nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw could remember nothing of Wednesday's crash and was not yet aware that his parents and 11-year-old brother had died in the accident, the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported.
  
"My name is Ruben and I am from Holland," Telegraaf reported on a telephone conversation with the only survivor of the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 that disintegrated on landing at Tripoli airport.
  
"I am fine, but my legs hurt a lot," the boy told a reporter from the newspaper on the mobile phone of one of his doctors.
  
"I am in a hospital," Ruben said. "I don't know how I got here, I don't know anything more. I really want to go home."
  
Officials said 70 Dutch people were among the 103 people killed in the crash, although Afriqiyah Airways said on Friday there were 67 Dutch on board Flight 771, including the boy.
  
The airline said the flight was also carrying 13 South Africans, 13 Libyans including the 11 crew, as well as four Belgians, two Austrians, one Briton, one French citizen, a German and a Zimbabwean.
  
The nationality of one victim has yet to be determined.
  
"Afriqiyah Airways wishes to express its deepest gratitude to all those who sent their condolences," the airline said in a statement.
  
It also praised "all airport staff who played a very distinguished role in search and rescue at site and voluntarily showed very honourable attitude towards helping the victims."
  
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's eldest son, Seif al-Islam, visited the boy on Thursday at the hospital in the capital where he is recovering after surgery on his smashed legs, the official Jana news agency reported.
  
Islam "asked about the health of the Dutch boy and about the treatment he is receiving from doctors at Al-Khadra hospital," the Libyan news agency reported.
  
The boy and his family had been returning from a safari holiday in South Africa.
  
He has been identified by the Dutch foreign ministry only as Ruben, but more fully by Dutch media as Ruben van Assouw.
  
He greeted an aunt and uncle with a smile when they arrived at his Tripoli bedside on Thursday, and would be allowed to travel home to the Netherlands as soon as his medical condition allowed, a doctor said.
  
The Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad said the boy was probably from Tilburg in the southern Netherlands and that he had been on safari in South Africa with his mother Trudy, 41, father Patrick, 40, and brother Enzo, 11.
  
Siddiq ben Dilla, a doctor who operated on the boy, said on Thursday that he was "getting better" and could travel home in the next few days.
  
"His family is with him now," the doctor told AFP. "His memory is good: as soon as his relatives walked in he smiled, and was happy to see them."
  
The boy's grandmother, An van de Sande, said in a report on Thursday that the holiday had been to celebrate the couple's copper wedding anniversary -- marked in the Netherlands after 12.5 years.
  
"We don't understand. It's like we're in a film," she was quoted as saying by Brabants Dagblad.

Date created : 2010-05-14

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