Anthonius Gunawan Agung, an air traffic controller at PLW, has been posthumously lauded for his actions, which enabled the departure of a flight from quake-hit PLW. He died of injuries received while attempting to jump from the control tower and has been hailed for his actions by local authorities.
An air traffic controller at Indonesia’s Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport (PLW), the facility which serves the quake-hit city of Palu, has been posthumously praised as a hero for allowing a craft to safely depart the airport just as tremors struck the area.
The BBC reports that 21-year-old Anthonius Gunawan Agung was inside the air traffic control tower at PLW when the 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the area last Friday. It has been revealed that Agung was in the process of clearing Batik Air Flight 6321 for departure from PLW when the earthquake began to shake the city.
While colleagues of Agung – none of whom were handling traffic at the time the earthquake struck – were able to safely evacuate from the control tower, it is reported that the 21-year-old stayed behind until the craft had departed from PLW.
A large aftershock hit the four-story structure just after Agung had given the Batik Air flight clearance, collapsing the roof of the tower. In an attempt to escape, it is reported that he jumped from a window of the tower, breaking his arms, legs and ribs in the process.
Despite being taken to a local hospital, Agung died before he could receive specialist treatment. Commenting to Australian news outlet ABC, Yohannes Sirait, spokesman for Air Navigation Indonesia, solemnly commended Agung’s actions, saying, “He gave clearance for this flight, and if he left his post before the plane was airborne, hundreds of people inside the plane might be in danger.”
Commenting on the loss of Agung’s life, Sirait said, “Our heart breaks to hear about this.”
PLW has been heavily impacted by the quake, with both the facility’s control tower and runway heavily damaged.