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'My guardian angel': pilot hails air traffic controller who died in Indonesian quake

2018-10-03 06:04
An air traffic controller who died in an earthquake in Palu, Indonesia, has been hailed a hero for not leaving his post when the disaster struck in order to ensure a passenger plane took off safely. Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, was among at least 1,200 people who died in the devastating quake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island on Friday (September 28). When the 7.5-magnitude quake struck, Agung did not follow others leaving the crumbling four-storey control tower. "He stayed in his position until the very last of my departure," said the plane's pilot Ricoseta Mafella, who was following Agung's last instructions during the earthquake. "Once he made sure that the aircraft departed safely, he jumped from the tower to the lower level," he added. The air traffic controller broke his arm, leg and ribs in the fall, authorities said, adding that he died from his injuries. Air Navigation Indonesia said in a statement that it would posthumously raise Agung's rank by two levels as a sign of appreciation for his dedication. The company tweeted out images showing Agung's body being carried to a helicopter during his funeral procession in Makassar. "I think he did a very heroic action, he did his job professionally, and I think he should be honoured. I call him my guardian angel," Mafella said. Credit: Reuters