Indonesia earthquake: Air traffic controller dies after ensuring plane's departure

The air traffic controller made sure a flight left Palu before schedule before the earthquake hit and destroyed the control tower.

Anthonius Gunawan Agung has been hailed a hero after the 21-year-old allowed the last flight to leave Mutiara SIS Al-Jufri Airport, in Palu, before he died jumping from the collapsing control tower as the earthquake struck the coastal town.

An AirNav Indonesian spokesperson confirmed the man's death in a statement, claiming he ensured the last commercial flight left the airport before he attempted his escape.

"When the earthquake occurred, Agung had cleared Batik Air for takeoff. He waited until the aircraft was safely in the air before leaving his air traffic controller cabin," spokesperson Yohanes Sirait told the Jakarta Globe.

The pilot of the commercial flight, Ezoci, praised the hero traffic controller for allowing the flight to leave safely, according to an Instagram post.

‘Batik 6231 runway 33 clear for take off’. This was his last transmission to me then we replied," Mr Mafella wrote on Instagram.

"Thank you for keeping me and guarding me till I’m safely airborne. Then he jumped out of tower broke his leg and arm. Wing of honor for Anthonius Gunawan Agung as my guardian angel at Palu. Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you."

Agung is one of more than 400 people confirmed dead after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the coastal towns of Palu and Donggala at 6pm local time on Friday. A three-metre tsunami followed the earthquake and devastated the towns.

Authorities have warned the death toll could rise as emergency workers access remote areas.

Published 30 September 2018 at 12:05pm, updated 30 September 2018 at 12:57pm
By Riley Morgan