Air Traffic Controller Dies Helping Hundreds Escape Tsunami-Hit Island


An air traffic controller has died after he stayed behind to help people escape a city in Indonesia which has been hit by a tsunami. 

The life-threatening wave hit the city of Palu on Sulawesi island on Friday (September 28), following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Anthonius Gunawan Agung was working at Palu airport at the time.

21-year-old Anthonius saved hundreds of people during the horrific events by remaining in the control tower even after his colleagues fled the airport.

The courageous man waited in the tower until the last plane carrying those fleeing from the disaster was in the air.

Just moments after the last plane took off the control tower began to crumble to the ground and Anthonius was forced to jump from a fourth story window to try and escape.

He suffered a broken leg from his jump and was rushed to hospital, but sadly died from internal injuries on Saturday morning.

The Indonesian Air Navigation Twitter account has been explaining Anthonius’ story and honouring him for his bravery.

One tweet read (translated):

[Anthonius] has died while carrying out his duties as a flight navigation service personnel, Brother Anthonius Gunawan Agung, Air Traffic Controller (ATC) AirNav Indonesia Palu Branch on Saturday (29/09).

The thread continued:

He had not been able to get off because the plane has yet to take-off. He waited until the plane was airborne. After the aircraft was airborne, condition of the quake already getting stronger.

He finally decided to jump from the cabin tower (4th floor). As a result, he suffered a broken leg.

Soldiers carried Anthonius’ body as it was transported for burial.

In honour of his bravery and selflessness, Anthonius’ ranking was raised two levels.

The tweets explained (translated):

AirNav Raise Rank ATC Alm. Anthony the Great Gunawan two levels as a form of appreciation outstanding dedication towards the deceased.

The pilot of the final plane Anthonius cleared for takeoff shared a tribute to the 21-year-old on Instagram, writing:

‘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.

Then he jumped out of tower broke his leg and arm. Wing of honour for Anthonius Gunawan Agung as my guardian angel at Palu. Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you.

Speaking at a press conference, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 384 people were killed in the city of Palu alone.

Speaking to reporters, he added:

The deaths are believed to be still increasing since many bodies were still under the wreckage while many have not able to be reached.

Many bodies were found along the shoreline because of the tsunami.

When the [tsunami] threat arose yesterday, people were still doing their activities on the beach and did not immediately run and they became victims.

The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land.

Rescue efforts are still underway for dozens of people trapped in the collapsed ruins of an eight-storey hotel in Palu, where voices could be heard from the wreckage.

Nugroho explained:

There are 50 people under the rubble of the building. Heavy equipment is needed for evacuation.

Our thoughts are with all of those suffering from the horrific events.

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