TRIPOLI, Libya – The Dutch family – mom, dad and two young sons – were headed home from a dream safari in South Africa when their plane plunged to Earth in Libya. Rescuers found a single passenger alive: 9-year-old Ruben, still strapped in his seat.
The sole survivor slept peacefully Thursday. His left eye, forehead and slim torso were marked with bruises and scrapes; his left leg was immobilized in a blue and white cast.
Ruben smiled and spoke briefly to an aunt and uncle who rushed to his bedside from Holland, but has yet to be told his parents and 11-year-old brother are dead.
“He’s awake. He’s talking. He is listening,” a Dutch Foreign Ministry official, Ed Kronenburg, said after visiting the boy. The child was recovering well after 4 1/2 hours of surgery to repair multiple fractures to his legs, Kronenburg said.
Ruben, his brother Enzo and their parents Trudy and Patrick van Assouw had gone to South Africa during the boys’ spring school vacation to celebrate the couple’s 12 1/2 -year wedding anniversary, a Dutch tradition.
In his travel blog, Patrick Van Assouw wrote about the camping trip that took them through some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders.
Their Libyan-owned jetliner was minutes from landing in Tripoli on Wednesday when it crashed into a field at the edge of the runway, killing 103 people.
Dutch officials said Ruben could be flown back to Holland as early as this weekend.
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