(Newswire.net— September 30, 2018) — As a devastating 7.7 earthquake hit the city of Palu, Indonesia, causing massive destruction and a following tsunami, young Indonesian air traffic controller stayed on duty at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri airport after all his colleagues ran for their lives, Russia Today reports.
A month short of his 22nd birthday, ATC rookie Anthonius Gunawan Agung stayed in the control tower to guide the last airplane of the runway. He was fatally injured trying to escape the tower that threatened to collapse.
Amid devastating ground shakes Agung stayed to ensure that Batik Air Flight 6321 got off the ground safely. As cracks started to appear all over the airport including the runway, the 21-year-old ATC controller realized that the last remaining airplane on the ground would remain trapped if not navigated through the newly formed concrete cracks on the runway. Agung stayed alone in the ATC tower guiding the airplane which carried more than a hundred passengers and crew to the safety of a clear sky.
The Palu airport was nearly completely destroyed in the earth quake. Its 8200ft long runway lost 1600 feet but remained operational for rescue airplanes. The tower didn’t collapse.
When the plane took off, another wave shook the tower that seemed like it would collapse within mere seconds. Fearing the structure is breaking down, Agung jumped from the four story high tower. His legs were broken and he suffered internal injuries.
Agung was rushed to a nearby hospital, however, the doctors didn’t have a surgical team nor the equipment to help the boy so the doctors decided to send him to a larger hospital. Unfortunately, Agung died in the helicopter during transport.
Spokesman for Air Navigation Indonesia Yohannes Sirait said Agung’s sacrifice had potentially saved the lives of hundreds of people.
“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. “Unfortunately we lost him this morning before the helicopter reached Palu,” Sirait added.
Hundreds of people gathered at Agung’s funeral to pay tribute to the hero, while soldiers carried his body.
As acknowledgement for his bravery and sacrifice, AirNav Indonesia officials raised Agung’s rank by two levels saying that he “demonstrated tremendous dedication” in providing flight safety, Russia Today reports.
The devastating earthquake that hit Indonesian town Palu on Friday and caused a tsunami claimed the lives of 384 people while over 500 people were injured.