Aviation News

May 11, 2011

Life Improving for Child Survivor of 2010 Libyan Plane Crash

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The condition of the Dutch child who survived the crash of Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 in Libya last year is improving quickly, local media reported on Monday.

Wreckage of Afriqiyah Flight 771 as seen on Libyan TV.

Wreckage of Afriqiyah Flight 771 as seen on Libyan TV.

Flight 771, an Airbus A330-202, crashed during its final approach to Tripoli International Airport in Libya on May 12, 2010. It was on a scheduled international flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa and was carrying mostly Dutch passengers.

Nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw of Tilburg, a city in southern the Netherlands, was the only person on board to survive the accident. A total of 103 people were killed, including Assouw’s brother and their parents.

The ANP news agency reported on Monday that the condition of Assouw, who is now 10, has significantly improved since the accident last year. His aunt, Ingrid, said that Libyan doctors who did the initial care after the accident had helped save his life.

The sole survivor of the air disaster is now back in the Netherlands and has been released from hospital, and doctors said his recovery has progressed much faster than expected. The child now lives with Ingrid and her husband.

The family had planned to travel to Libya in February, ANP reported, but the ongoing civil war in the North African country has forced them to cancel their trip. “[Ruben] wants to know what happened,” Ingrid told ANP, adding that the boy also wants to show Libyan doctors how he has recovered from his injuries.

A memorial for the victims of the tragedy is expected to be held in the Netherlands on Thursday, but ANP reported that Assouw will not attend as their guardians don’t want him to be photographed by the media. Assouw was the focus of extreme media attention in the Netherlands after the accident.

Meanwhile, the exact causes of the crash remain unknown. In April, one of the former investigators told the Dutch broadcaster NOS that the Libyan government was determined to blame a heart attack of the pilot as the cause of the accident before the investigation had even begun.

The current situation in Libya means the investigation has been suspended and it is unlikely it will resume before the situation in the country is stabilized.