Air Traffic Controller Dies a Hero

Anthonius Gunawan Agung stayed in the tower despite Indonesian earthquake
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2018 11:45 AM CDT
Air Traffic Controller Dies Helping Plane Take Off
Anthonius Gunawan Agung.   (Indonesian Airnav)

After Indonesia's Friday earthquake, an air traffic controller sacrificed his life to help get an airplane off the ground. Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, was alone in the control tower at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in the coastal city of Palu after the 7.5-magnitude temblor sent his colleagues running for their lives, ABC Australia reports. Agung remained to ensure that Batik Air Flight 6321, with hundreds of people on board, got off the ground. Afterward, the tower trembling, Agung leaped from the fourth floor and suffered injuries that turned out to be fatal.

"Agung's legs, arms and ribs were broken," Didiet KS Radityo, an Indonesian air-navigation official, tells the Jarkarta Post. A helicopter was called in to fly Agung to Balikpapan, says Didiet, "but God had another plan. He passed away 20 minutes before the helicopter arrived." Colleagues expressed their appreciation on Twitter, posting photos of Agung and soldiers carrying his covered body past an honor guard, per the BBC. The Indonesian hero is among nearly 400 officially dead in Palu, a city of 380,000, where the earthquake's death toll is expected to rise. (Read more Indonesia stories.)

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