Air Traffic Controller Gives His Life to Save Hundreds As Earthquake Hits

For 21-year-old Anthonius Gunawan Agung, Friday evening was just a normal day working as an air traffic controller in Palu, a city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. What Agung didn’t expect was that moments after clearing a Batik Air flight for takeoff, a sudden 7.5-magnitude earthquake would strike.

While his colleagues on the fourth floor of the control tower ran for their lives, Agung bravely stayed behind with the sole purpose of ensuring Batik Air Flight 6321 made it safely off the ground while the runway ahead of them began to crack.

By the time the plane took off, the rocking tower had endured so much damage that the roof began to cave in. Fearing for his life, Agung jumped the four stories to the ground, where he suffered a broken leg and internal injuries.

Agung was taken to a local hospital, where doctors decided he needed to be airlifted to a bigger facility with better care. Just 20 minutes before the helicopter should have arrived at the new hospital, the 21-year old succumbed to his injuries.

“Agung dedicated himself to his job until the end of his life and did not leave the control tower until the plane took off, even though the earthquake had struck,” Didiet K.S. Radityo, corporate secretary of the Indonesian Flight Navigation Service Institution, or AirNav, told the Jakarta Post on Saturday.

The young man is rightfully being hailed as a hero as he gave his life to ensure the hundreds of people aboard the plane took off safely with their lives intact.

Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of the horror that would take place in Palu—the massive quake would soon cause a tsunami, with heights reaching 5-10 feet. A large number of buildings have been completely destroyed, and per the LA Times, around 400 people have already been declared dead, with that number still climbing.

In addition, Donggala, another city on the island of Sulawesi, suffered a massive amount of damage due to the same tsunami. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed, but the total damage done, along with the lives lost, has yet to be determined as the city remains cut off from communications.

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia triggered a massive tsunami, leaving at least 300 dead. https://t.co/tqxHmnwz5I pic.twitter.com/A7vJJz3ZNW

With thousands still missing, it’s feared that many are still trapped underneath the rubble. Relief efforts have already begun as the Indonesian Red Cross has deployed ambulances and water trucks, along with blankets, sleeping mats and other supplies.

The Indonesian islands have taken a massive beating this year. Just this past August, the island of Lombok was rocked hard by multiple massive quakes that took the lives of over 500 people and injured well over a thousand.

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