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Dutch child who survived plane crash is flown home

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The 9-year-old Dutch boy who miraculously survived a plane crash in Libya returned to the Netherlands aboard an airborne ambulance Saturday and was whisked away to a hospital in his hometown, where he must begin to rebuild his life without his parents or brother.

Ruben van Assouw was the sole survivor, pulled unconscious from the wreckage of an Afriqiyah Airways jetliner that plunged into the desert less than a mile from the runway in Tripoli on Wednesday, killing 103 people.

Ruben flew with an aunt and uncle and was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in nearby Tilburg, the hometown of the Van Assouws. Patrick, 40, Trudy, 41, and their son Enzo died in the crash.

The story of the boy's improbable survival and loss has moved people around the world. Hundreds 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.

At the Yore school in Tilburg where Enzo was in the sixth grade and Ruben is in the third, students returned early from spring break to sign a condolence register for Enzo — and prepare for Ruben's eventual return.

As officials began identifying the dead — which include 70 Dutch nationals — on Saturday, a panel of American, Dutch, French, South African and Libyan investigators issued no findings.

The American investigators are from the National Transportation Safety Board team since the plane's engines were made by U.S. manufacturer General Electric. The team also was to include technical advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration and General Electric.

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 child who survived plane crash is flown home 05/15/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 15, 2010 8:26pm]

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