A terrible accident (or so it appears) happened in Libya earlier today: a plane, with 104 people on board, crashed when it tried to land. 103 people died. The sole surviver was a ten year old Dutch boy. It seems likely that at least one of his parents died in the crash, possibly both. He was taken to the hospital immediately, where he underwent surgery for breaks in both legs and other injuries. Transport Minister Mohammed Zidan said afterwards that “the child is in good condition.”
The crash is dominating the news in the Netherlands. Not only because of the miraculous Dutch surviver, but because 62 of the 93 passengers (11 of the dead were crew members) were Dutch as well.
The airplane, an Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330, crashed when it was about to land. Although Libyan authorities immediately ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack, the cause of the crash is as of yet unknown. Arabic media report that the plane was on fire shortly before the accident, some even say there was an explosion on board. If that is correct, you have to wonder about Libya’s immediate denial terrorism had anything to do with it.
Because of the sheer size of the disaster the many political parties in the Netherlands have suspended their campaigns, which is no small feat considering the fact that the elections for parliament are less than a month off. The campaigns are heating up. The different political leaders were taking swipes at each other, in an attempt to make the other (mostly) guys look worse than them. But not today. No, today the hatchet was temporarily buried and all attention went to the victims of this latest terrible plane crash and their relatives and friends.
It’s a sign of how big of an impact this terrible accident has in the Netherlands. Because of its scale and because it’s so easy to identify with the victims, Dutch news channels and newspapers are focusing completely on it. After all, what happened today has to be everybody’s worst nightmare. You take your family out for a vacation (the plane was actually on its way from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Brussels, Belgium but had to make a transit stop in Tripoli), you’re in the plane, talking and enjoying the time together when everything suddenly goes wrong, the plane crashes and you, your wife and children are suddenly dead. Your trip, which was meant to re-energize you, became your death. It’s absolutely horrible.
As an aside, I’ve got to admit that I feel a little bit uneasy with the attention this accident is getting in the media. I can’t help but get the impression that some news outlets are quietly celebrating the disaster, because it allows them to make a quick buck. Everybody’s watching TV, surfing the Net and/ or buying newspapers to get the latest update about the boy’s condition and to find out what caused the crash exactly. Frankly, I’m starting to feel like these organizations and the journalists working for them are nothing more but vultures. And yes, I know it’s politically incorrect to say so but, then again, I’m not exactly known for being political correct anyway.