Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Indonesian Air Traffic Controller Dies Helping Last Flight Escape Earthquake

A 21-year-old Indonesian air traffic controller who stayed in the tower to ensure the last flight got off the runway when a massive earthquake struck is being hailed as a hero and a “guardian angel”.
Anthonius Gunawan Agung remained in the swaying Air Traffic Control Tower at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport on Friday after the magnitude-7.5 quake rocked the coastal city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.
Yohannes Harry Sirait, a spokesman for Indonesia's air traffic control service said the decision cost Agung his life but potentially saved dozens of others.
Agung had just given a Batik Air flight permission to depart a few minutes early when the quake struck at 6:02 PM local time Friday evening (6:02 AM EDT).
As the walls began to crack and other employees ran from the shaking tower, Agung remained to see the Batik flight get off the ground safely, Australia's ABC News reported.
“When the quake happened, he was giving clearance to Batik Air to take off and waited for the plane to be safely airborne before finally leaving the ATC cabin tower,” Sirait said.
Icoze Ezoci, the plane's pilot, later wrote on Instagram: “ Batik 6231 runway 33 clear for take off, this was his last transmission to me, then we replied. Thank you for keeping me and guarding me till I’m safely airborne.”
Ezoci called Agung his “guardian angel at Palu” and added, “Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you.”
Agung jumped from the four-story tower as it began to collapse, Sky News reported.
He was taken to a hospital where doctors discovered that Agung had serious internal injuries, in addition to a broken leg. Before a helicopter could arrive to take him to a larger hospital, Agung breathed his last.
Ezoci, the pilot, said he felt something “wrong” as the plane sped down the runway. Had it been 30 seconds later, the plane would not have got into the air, he added.
AirNav Indonesia, the country's air traffic control service, said that Agung has been posthumously promoted two levels. Agung's body was flown to Makassar in South Sulawesi for burial.

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