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Nine-year-old Dutch plane crash survivor told his family died in the disaster

TRIPOLI, Libya — Relatives broke the news to a Dutch boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash in Libya that his parents and brother died in the disaster, as authorities said the 9-year-old would return home today.

Rescuers found Ruben van Assouw still strapped in his seat and breathing in an area of desert sand strewn with the plane's debris.

His father, mother and 11-year-old brother are believed to have been among the 103 people on board who were killed Wednesday when their flight from South Africa crashed short of the runway in Tripoli.

Since then, he has been recovering well after 4 1/2 hours of surgery to repair multiple fractures to his legs, with an aunt and uncle who rushed in from Amsterdam at his bedside.

On Friday, his aunt and uncle released a statement saying they had told the boy of the deaths of his parents, Trudy and Patrick van Assouw, and his brother, Enzo.

"We told Ruben this morning exactly what happened. He knows his parents and brother are dead.

"The whole family is going to bear the responsibility for Ruben's future," they said in the statement.

"We have two kinds of sorrow to deal with, because Ruben is in a terrible situation, but we have also lost family members," they said, adding for respect for their privacy. "The coming time will be a difficult period for us."

Nine-year-old Dutch plane crash survivor told his family died in the disaster 05/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 9:07pm]
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