Indonesia salutes air traffic controller who gave his life for others
Indonesian solders were on hand in full uniform Saturday to carry the coffin of Anthonius Gunawan Agung.
The 21-year-old did not budge from his post in the control tower at Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport Palu as it began to shake from a 6.1 magnitude tremor, followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Friday.
As his colleagues evacuated the building for safety, Agung stayed behind to ensure that a Batik Air flight had taken off safely.
As the plane became airborne, Agung, believing the tower would collapse, jumped from a fourth floor window. He was rushed to hospital with internal injuries and a broken leg.
Agung died before a helicopter could take him to another hospital for specialty care on Saturday morning. He was just a month shy of his 22nd birthday.
“Batik 6231 runway 33 clear for take off. This was his last transmission to me then we replied,” Captain Ricosetta Mafella, pilot of Batik Air flight wrote in a post on Instagram that included a picture of Agung. “Thank you for keeping me and guarding me till I’m safely airborne.”
Agung is being hailed as a hero by his former employers — who refer to him on Twitter as Anthonius the Great — and across Indonesia, as the nation comes to grips with yet another devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 800 people, with thousands still missing.
“We felt a deep heartbreak, may God give Anthonius the best place beside him, along with other victims of Donggala earthquake,” Yohanes Sirait, spokesman for AirNav Indonesia, the agency that oversees aircraft navigation, said in a statement.
According to the agency, Agung’s body was flown from Palu to Makassar, in the south of the Sulawesi island at the request of his family.