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Airplane crash in Tripoli

This page contains the latest updates on the air disaster in Libya on 12 May 2010.

Identification and repatriation of victims of airline disaster completed

The identification and repatriation of the Dutch victims of the airline disaster in Tripoli has now been completed. The last three were flown into the Netherlands this morning. The four members of the National Forensic Identification Team (LTFO) who were still in Libya arrived home on the same flight.

‘I am pleased that the families of the victims now have closure,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen. He praised all the parties involved for their close cooperation in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster. ‘The identification and repatriation of the many victims proceeded smoothly. That is largely thanks to the Libyan authorities, who gave their full cooperation.’

Specialists from the LTFO had been in Tripoli since 12 May to identify the 70 Dutch nationals and 22 nationals of other countries who were passengers on the plane. They have all now been identified. A total of 120 experts were involved in both Tripoli and the Netherlands. The LTFO commissioned the Netherlands Forensic Institute to make the DNA profiles needed in the identification process.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, LTFO, the Royal Dutch Touring Club’s Alarm Centre and the Dutch Victim Support Organisation worked closely together to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The Royal Dutch Touring Club and the Victim Support Organisation will provide the bereaved with further assistance.

The disaster took place on Wednesday 12 May, claiming the lives of 103 passengers and crew. The victims included 70 Dutch people. 

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First victims of Tripoli disaster identified

News Flash 28 May 2010

In Libya the National Forensic Investigation Team (LTFO) has identified the first victims of the airline disaster in Tripoli. These identifications have been authorised by the Libyan government.

More victims are expected to be identified in the near future. At this point, it is impossible to say when the identification process will be complete.

Family members will be kept informed of the results by LTFO family liaison officers. The victims’ remains will be repatriated by the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB), in consultation with their families.

In the interest of privacy, no further details will be released about the identifications. No information regarding the repatriation will be given in advance to the media.

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Verhagen shocked at news of air crash

Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen has responded with shock at the news that an aircraft has crashed in Tripoli. Dozens of Dutch nationals travelling home from Johannesburg were on board the aircraft in question.

‘Our first thoughts are for the victims and their loved ones. Many families will now be facing terrible uncertainty, and we are doing everything we can to get a clear picture of the situation as soon as possible,’ the minister said.

Dutch embassy officials are at the scene and a crisis team has been formed at the foreign ministry in The Hague to liaise with the travel agencies, insurance company helplines and airline involved. Concerned friends and relatives should contact the special information line: +31 (0)70 348 7770.

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Libyan air crash: reinforcements for Tripoli identification team

News Flash | 14 May 2010

20 experts from the National Forensic Investigation Team (LTFO) will leave for Tripoli at 18:30 Saturday evening. They will join their 5 colleagues who have been working there since yesterday.

The team will support the Libyan authorities in identifying all the victims of the air disaster. ‘It is still unclear how long the identification process will take,’ said foreign minister Maxime Verhagen. ‘But I hope that the efforts of this large group of experts will make it possible to provide relatives with certainty as soon as possible.’

The identification process consists of two parts: describing the bodies in Libya and collecting identification material in the Netherlands. LTFO specialists visited the relatives of all the Dutch victims yesterday.


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Ruben’s family says thank you for all the support


The family of Ruben, the Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of the air crash in Tripoli, has issued a statement. At the family’s request, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is making it available to the media


First, we would like to express our gratitude to all the people who have helped us so much in recent days under these difficult circumstances. We would particularly like to mention the El Khadra hospital in Libya, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch embassy. We would also like to thank the vast majority of the Dutch media for respecting our privacy.

All the expressions of sympathy we have received in the Netherlands and Libya have been a great support. Several schools and scouts clubs, for example, have brought us flowers and gifts. The medical team at the hospital was fantastic and highly professional. The attending physician made every effort to help Ruben recover. The nurses looked after him very well and were very kind to him.

Considering the circumstances, Ruben is doing fine. He is sleeping a lot; now and then he wakes up and is then lucid. He has drunk a little, and has seen the flowers and cuddly toys.

This morning we told Ruben exactly what had happened. He knows that his parents and brother were killed.

We and the entire family will take care of Ruben’s future. We have to deal with two kinds of grief, for Ruben finds himself in a terrible situation, and we have also lost members of our family: our brother and sister, and our nephew Enzo.

The coming period will be very difficult for us. We hope that all the media will respect our privacy.

NB: This statement was read to the assembled media in Libya at 17:30 by Ed Kronenburg, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Ruben returning to the Netherlands on Saturday

News Flash 14 May 2010

The Dutch boy Ruben, who was the sole survivor of the Libyan air crash, will be brought back to the Netherlands on Saturday 15 May. He will be accompanied by his aunt and uncle and the attending physician. The plane will leave Tripoli at 10 am.

At the request of Ruben’s relatives, the place where the plane will land will not be divulged and the media will not be given the opportunity to be present when it arrives. His relatives have appealed to the media to exercise restraint and to leave Ruben and his family in peace at this difficult time.

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Libyan air crash: assistance team gets to work

News flash | 13 May 2010

The Dutch assistance team arrived in Tripoli this morning and immediately set to work. The Libyan authorities are cooperating to the full. Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen made this announcement this afternoon at a meeting in Hoofddorp for relatives of the crash victims.

The aunt and uncle of Ruben, the sole survivor of the crash, travelled with the team and visited him in hospital. ‘Ruben was happy to see two familiar faces at his bedside,’ said Mr Verhagen. They were accompanied by Ed Kronenburg, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ruben’s condition is stable but it is not yet possible to transport him.

An ANWB aircraft left for Tripoli this afternoon carrying medical experts, who will consult with the Libyan doctors and decide when Ruben can return come.

The team also visited the crash site, where they encountered a scene of utter devastation, as shown by the images transmitted across the world yesterday. The identification team immediately met their Libyan counterparts and went to the hospital where victims’ bodies are being kept.

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70 Dutch people killed in air crash

News flash 13 May 2010

Based on information from travel agencies Stip and Kras, the Afriqiyah Airways passenger list and the checklist of the customs authorities in Johannesburg, it appears that 70 Dutch people were killed in the plane crash in Tripoli.

38 of the victims were travelling with Stip and 24 with Kras. Nine Dutch people had booked their flight themselves. They include the family of the nine-year-old boy Ruben, the sole survivor of the disaster. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted the relatives of the victims. A special meeting will be held for them this afternoon.

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Identity of Dutch boy now known

News flash 13 May 2010

This morning it was established that the only survivor of the air crash in Libya is a nine-year-old Dutch boy. An official from the Dutch embassy in Tripoli was able to speak with him. He told her that his name is Ruben, he is nine years old and comes from Tilburg. He is reasonably well, considering the circumstances.


An aunt and uncle of the boy have just landed in Tripoli on the government plane and will be taken to the hospital as soon as possible to visit him. As soon as his health allows, Ruben will be brought back to the Netherlands.

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Foreign ministry wants to quickly determine boy’s identity

News flash 13 May 2010

The boy who survived the plane crash in Libya and is very probably of Dutch nationality will be visited again on Thursday by representatives of the Dutch foreign ministry. 

The ministry has invited two people who are thought to be relatives of the boy to fly to Tripoli on the government plane. Although there is still some uncertainty, it hopes that the boy will be able to see two familiar faces at his bedside as soon as possible.

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Verhagen advises relatives to stay in the Netherlands

News Flash 12 May 2010

Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen has advised relatives of victims of the Tripoli air crash to stay in the Netherlands. The airline has offered them tickets. Mr Verhagen says he appreciates this gesture but advises them not to go to Libya, as ‘they are needed here to assemble the material and information required to identify the victims’.


If people nevertheless decide to go to Libya, he urges them to inform the Ministry of their plans by ringing the emergency number +31 (0)70 348 7770.

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Number of Dutch victims still uncertain 

News Flash 12 May 2010

There is still no official confirmation of the number of Dutch victims of the air crash in Tripoli. ‘We do not know this because we do not yet have any reliable information on the identity and nationality of the people who actually checked in,’ said foreign minister Maxime Verhagen this afternoon.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a check-in list on which the names of several people who were definitely on the plane have been crossed out. But it is not certain if those whose names were not crossed out were also on the plane. What’s more, the list does not include passengers’ nationalities. Further inquiries therefore need to be made in Johannesburg and Tripoli, and the travel organisation needs to be consulted.

The foreign ministry wants to be completely certain before it releases this information, which dozens of families are anxiously awaiting.

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Assistance team flying to Tripoli this evening

News Flash 12 May 2010

This afternoon, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen announced that the Dutch government’s plane will fly to Tripoli this evening carrying a delegation headed by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ed Kronenburg.


The delegation will include a disaster identification team consisting of six people, and a rapid consular support team consisting of two people. Their tasks will include helping to identify victims. Mr Verhagen offered his deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of those who were on the plane.


Mr Verhagen said that he had earlier spoken to his Libyan counterpart, Mr Mussa Kussa. ‘He promised that the Libyan authorities would lend every assistance. I told him that I am extremely grateful for his help.’


Immediately after the disaster, the Dutch embassy in Tripoli sent officials to the airport and a crisis team was set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. Staff from the embassy in Brussels and the consulate-general in Dusseldorf are at the airports in those cities to assist people who were waiting to meet their relatives off connecting flights from Tripoli.

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Air disaster in Libya: Young survivor undergoing surgery

News Flash 12 May 2010

The boy who survived the air crash in Libya has suffered broken bones and is currently undergoing surgery at a hospital in Tripoli. The doctor treating him briefed a Dutch embassy official a short while ago.


As soon as the operation is completed, embassy officials will visit the child in order to establish his identity.

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