TRIPOLI, Libya – A 10-year-old Dutch boy lay in a hospital bed, head bandaged, skin pale and legs shattered — the lone “miracle” survivor of a plane crash Wednesday that killed 103 people in the Libyan capital. Most of the victims were Dutch tourists returning from vacation in South Africa.

Little was known about the dark-haired boy, who was rushed to a hospital in Tripoli where he underwent surgery for multiple fractures in both legs.

The barely conscious child muttered “Holland! Holland!” after he was found, a Dutch official said.

Libyan TV footage showed the boy, one eye bruised and swollen closed, breathing through an oxygen mask with multiple intravenous lines connected to his body and a monitor at his bedside. Doctors later said he was out of danger.

The Libyan jetliner crashed minutes before its scheduled landing after a more than seven-hour flight across Africa from Johannesburg.

Sixty-one victims were Dutch, many of them families headed home after spring break in South Africa, according to the Royal Dutch Tourism Board. Authorities released no names.

Officials had no immediate explanation for the boy’s survival. The head of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called it “truly a miracle.”

Flags were lowered throughout the Netherlands and campaigning for parliamentary elections was suspended to mourn the dead. Hundreds of people phoned emergency numbers to ask about family and friends.

In a field near the airport runway, little was left of the Airbus A330-200. Dozens of police and rescue workers wearing surgical masks and gloves combed through the wreckage, removing wallets, cell phones and other debris, some of it still smoldering. At least one body was seen being carried away.

Video footage showed a flight recorder and green seats with television screens on them. The plane’s tail displayed the numbers “9.9.99” — a reference to the date of the founding of the African Union.

Libya’s transport minister, Mohammad Zaidan, said the plane’s two black boxes had been found and turned over to analysts. He said the cause of the crash was under investigation, but authorities had ruled out a terrorist attack.

Flight 771 was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew, Afriqiyah Airways said in a statement, but it did not release a list. Besides the Dutch, the other victims were French, German, South African, Finnish, British and Libyan, according to the transport minister.

Weather conditions over Tripoli’s international airport were good on Wednesday, with three-mile visibility, scattered clouds at 10,000 feet and winds of 3 mph.

Wednesday’s crash was the first for Afriqiyah Airways, according to the Aviation Safety Network website.


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