Libya plane crash survivor `stable but confused`

The Dutch boy who survived a plane crash that killed 103 people in the Libyan capital is in satisfactory condition.

Tripoli: The Dutch boy who miraculously survived a Libya plane crash that killed 103 people is stable but confused, a medic said on Thursday, as members of his family headed to his bedside in a Tripoli hospital.

"The child underwent several rounds of surgery to his legs. He had simple fractures and double fractures," the doctor said on Libyan state television, which also showed pictures of the boy`s legs in casts.

"He woke up (late Wednesday night) and is in good condition," the doctor said.

But he stressed that the boy was confused and "still is not reacting well to his surroundings”.

Libyan authorities identified the boy as a Dutch citizen and the official JANA news agency named him as Robben Van Achout -- a transliteration from Arabic.

Dutch newspaper Babants Dagblad said the boy may be nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw from Tilburg in the southern Netherlands who, had been on safari in South Africa with his mother Trudy, 41, father Patrick, 40, and his brother Enzo, 11.

Dutch authorities have confirmed he is called Ruben, that he is nine years old and comes from Tilburg, but won`t confirm his surname.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said that two presumed family members of the injured child were on their way to Tripoli to make a positive identification.

Libya`s Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zidan said a total of 103 people -- 92 passengers of nine nationalities and an 11-strong Libyan crew -- died when an Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 coming from Johannesburg disintegrated on landing at Tripoli airport early Wednesday.

Of these, 61 were believed to be Dutch passengers returning from a package holiday in South Africa to the Netherlands, which ordered flags on government buildings flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.

Johannesburg private Talk Radio 702 reported on Thursday that at least 10 South Africans were among those who died.

The Libyan Transport Minister said the rest of the dead included two Germans as well as passengers from Britain, France, Finland, the Philippines, South Africa and Zimbabwe, although he could not give a breakdown of their numbers.

Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Francesco Mascini would on Thursday not confirm the survivor`s identity "until the two presumed family members have seen the child".

Mascini said the two family members had left on a government plane around 6:00 am (0400 GMT) from the port city of Rotterdam, and would make their way to the hospital on arrival in Tripoli later in the morning.

"Until the presumed family members have seen the child, we cannot say anything about his identity with certainty."

Last June, a 12-year-old girl was the sole survivor of a Yemeni plane crash off the Comoros.

Libyan minister Zidan said that both black boxes had been recovered and that four investigators from Airbus and three from France were on their way to Tripoli to join the inquiry. He ruled out an act of terrorism as the cause.

Witnesses spoke of the aircraft inexplicably breaking up as it came in to land in clear weather.

"It is too soon to know the causes of the accident," Sabri Shadi, the chairman of the board of Afriqiyah Airways, said about the probe into the crash.

"Several committees have been set up to investigate and we need some time before we can draw any conclusions," he said.

"A preliminary report should be published in the next few days but definitive results will not be know for several days, even weeks," he added.

Wednesday`s crash was the deadliest air accident in Libya since December 22, 1992 when a Libyan Arab Airlines plane crashed near Tripoli airport killing 157 people.

Twenty-two people were killed in an oil company plane crash in January 2000.

In other major accidents, 79 people were killed when a Korean Air plane crashed in Tripoli in July 1989. And 59 people died in a Balkan Bulgarian Airlines crash near Benghazi in December 1977.

Bureau Report

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