THE HAGUE, Netherlands – THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The family of a 9-year-old Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of last week's plane crash in Libya said Tuesday he is healing well in a Dutch hospital and is expected to fully recover from his injuries.
Ruben van Assouw's parents Patrick, 40, and Trudy, 41, and his 11-year-old brother, Enzo, were among the 103 passengers and crew killed last Wednesday when an Afriqiyah Airways plane slammed into the desert short of the runway at an airport in Libya's capital, Tripoli.
A statement by Ruben's family said he will require another operation when he is strong enough to undergo surgery. His legs were crushed in the crash.
Despite his ordeal, Ruben was not afraid to fly again, his family said in the statement. He flew home Saturday with an aunt and uncle, and is being treated in a hospital in the southern city of Tilburg.
"Ruben is doing well. He has had a bite to eat and has been watching a little TV. It is incredible how quickly he is improving," the statement said. "His doctors expect him to make a full recovery with time."
The family said its delight at getting Ruben back safely was putting off the moment when it has to begin grieving its losses.
"Ruben has been first and foremost in our minds so far," they said in the statement, posted on the website of Tilburg municipality. "We know that we have had to postpone our sorrow for the loved ones we lost. We are now trying to catch our breath a bit, because we realize that the next blow will come quickly."
The story of Ruben's miraculous survival and loss of his closest family members moved people around the world. Hundreds have offered condolences and wished the boy well on a blog set up by his father to chronicle the family's vacation to South Africa. They were returning home when their flight from Johannesburg to Tripoli crashed.
Investigators are still piecing together clues to establish why the jetliner crashed. Libya has ruled out terrorism as a possible cause. The plane's black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder — were recovered intact and have been sent to Paris for review.
Dutch lawmakers commemorated the 70 Dutch victims of the crash on Tuesday.