TRIPOLI, Libya – A 10-year-old Dutch boy lay in a hospital bed, head bandaged, skin pale and legs shattered – the lone “miracle” survivor of a plane crash Wednesday that killed 103 people in the Libyan capital. Most victims were Dutch tourists returning from vacation in South Africa.
Little was known about the dark-haired boy, who was rushed to a hospital in Tripoli where he underwent surgery for multiple fractures in both legs.
The barely conscious child muttered “Holland! Holland!” after he was found, a Dutch official said.
Libyan TV footage showed the boy, one eye bruised and swollen closed, breathing through an oxygen mask with multiple intravenous lines connected to his body and a monitor at his bedside. Doctors later said he was out of danger.
The Libyan jetliner crashed minutes before it was supposed to land after a more than seven-hour flight across the African continent from Johannesburg. Little remained of the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus aside from its tail. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Officials had no immediate explanation for the boy’s survival. The head of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called it “truly a miracle.”
However, aviation experts said that lone survivors, while rare, are not unknown. There have been at least five cases this decade of a single survivor in a commercial plane crash. Last summer, a young girl was found clinging to wreckage 13 hours after a plane went down in the water off the Comoros Islands.