Subscribe to Newsletter

Air traffic controller dies after averting possible disaster

Death toll from Indonesia creeps towards one thousand

Among the tragic news to have surfaced from the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Indonesia a few days ago, was the sad story of a traffic controller who lost his life after guiding a departing plane through a safe take-off. 



After his colleagues had fled - understandably - the swaying air traffic tower of Palu’s Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport, Anthonius Gunawan Agung stayed at his post to ensure Batik Air flight 6321 took off without incident, the ABC reported


Following take-off, in fear of the tower collapsing, Mr Agung decided to jump from the fourth floor of the tower. But in the fall he broke his leg and suffered serious internal trauma. 


Despite being rushed to the nearest hospital by colleagues, he died from his injuries. 


“We prepared a helicopter from Balikpapan in Kalimantan to take him to a bigger hospital in another city," Air Navigation Indonesia spokesman Yohannes Sirait said. 


"Unfortunately we lost him this morning before the helicopter reached Palu. 


"Our heart breaks to hear about this." 


Mr Sirait said that Agung, 21, had potentially saved hundreds of lives with his heroic actions.


"He gave clearance for this flight, and if he left his post before the plane was airborne, hundreds of people inside the plane might be in danger," he said. 



The 7.5 magnitude quake caused cracks which disabled 250 metres of the runway. 


Meanwhile, the death toll from the quake and tsunami has risen to 832, and there are fears that number will climb higher as outlying regions cut off to communication are reached. 


A popular tourist town, Sulawesi Island’s Palu was hit hardest by the disasters. 


With waves up to six metres high battering the city, several hotels and a mall are among the buildings that were destroyed by the tsunami and quake. 


A small beach festival was also taking place in Palu when the tsunami struck at dusk on Friday. 


While the whereabouts of at least a handful of international tourists remain unknown, no Australians have been reported missing.  


Images Indonesia Airnav,  Source ABC


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 1 October 2018

comments powered by Disqus