21-Year-Old Air Traffic Controller Sacrifices His Life to Save Hundred Others on Plane During Earthquake
A 21-year-old air traffic controller in Palu who continued to carry out his duty when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the city in Central Sulawesi last September 28 has been k|lled in the aftermath of the quake. As the [email protected] toll in the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia crossed 800, the young man was hailed as a national hero.
Anthonius Gunawan Agung was a flight navigation service personnel with AirNav Indonesia’s Palu branch and he was the air traffic controller (ATC) on duty at the Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie airport during the time of the incident.
On the night when the devastation struck, he stayed on the tower to ensure the last flight carrying hundreds of passengers took off safely. After the plane took off, Agung jumped from the tower because the roof had already collapsed.
“Agung’s legs, arms, and ribs were broken,” Didiet KS Radityo, the corporate secretary of the Indonesian Flight Navigation Service Institution (AirNav Indonesia) said.
Didiet said AirNav Indonesia had prepared a helicopter to take him to Balikpapan for further treatment “but God had another plan. He passed away 20 minutes before the helicopter arrived,” he added.
“Agung dedicated himself to his job until the end of his life and did not leave the control tower until the plane took off, even though the earthquake had struck.”
Batik Air pilot, Ricosetta Mafella, who captained the flight, expressed his gratitude on Instagram, along with a photo of Agung. He also shared the last message by the hero officer and thanked him for allowing them to take off early.
AirNav Indonesia lauded the young officer for his sacrifice and in acknowledgment of his bravery, officials raised his rank by two levels. Agung “demonstrated tremendous dedication” in providing flight safety and was given a hero’s farewell as soldiers carried his body to be transported to the burial.