TRIPOLI, Libya - The Dutch boy who was the only survivor of a Libyan plane crash that killed 103 people has not yet been told that his parents and older brother were killed, a Dutch Foreign Ministry official said Thursday.
The official, Ed Kronenburg, identified the boy as Ruben van Assouw, 9, and told The Associated Press his mother, father and older brother Enzo, 11, all apparently died in the crash of an airliner arriving in the Libyan capital Tripoli from Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday. They had been on vacation in South Africa to celebrate the parents' 12 1/2- year wedding anniversary - a Dutch tradition, he said.
Kronenburg, the permanent undersecretary of the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry, said he visited Ruben in the hospital Thursday and he is awake and talking, but dizzy from anesthesia after undergoing surgery Wednesday on multiple fractures in his legs.
He said an aunt and an uncle who flew in from Holland also visited him on Thursday and the boy smiled when he saw them. "He's awake. He's talking. He is listening. Of course he also sleeps quite a lot because he got anesthesia yesterday and is still a bit dizzy," Kronenburg said. "He hasn't been told yet, as far as we know, that his parents died."
He said he could not officially confirm their deaths yet "but I think it's quite likely that his parents and his brother perished." Kronenburg said Ruben's aunt, Ingrid van Assouw, and an uncle, Jeroen van der Sande, visited him Thursday at the hospital after flying in from Holland.
The official said the boy was found at one end of the crash site about half a mile from the large tail section of the plane - something that could indicate he was sitting in the front of the plane. Rescuers at the scene noticed he was breathing.
"That's why they noticed that he was still alive," Kronenburg said. He did not have any other information about the situation in which Ruben was found. He said he visited the boy after he had 4 1/2 hours of surgery on his leg fractures.
"I spoke to the doctors who are treating him and they are very satisfied about his condition. Actually, I've seen for myself that he's ok." He said Ruben could be flown back to Holland as early as this weekend.