Survivor of accident wants his tombstone removed

Friday, July 26, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- When police told Bangau Yuni Samuel's family that he and his father were killed in a plane crash in the jungle of Borneo, relatives buried the remains and put tombstones over the graves.

The 20-year-old Samuel, however, wasn't dead. The lone survivor of the July 18 crash that killed nine others, he hiked for five days to the nearest town, where he emerged wearing only a torn black t-shirt and his underwear.

Now that he's back, Samuel wants his family to take down his tombstone from the graveyard.

"I want to remove my tombstone that says I am dead," he told the state-run news agency Antara from his hospital bed in Long Bawan.

Samuel, his father and the other passengers had boarded the plane for an hour-long flight from Tarakan, a town in the East Kalimantan province, to Krayan when it went down.

Rescuers located the plane two days after the crash, and said all on board were killed. They later acknowledged that the bodies were so mangled and dismembered that it wasn't possible to identify all of them.

Samuel said he had been sleeping during the flight and banged his head when the plane went out of control. He awoke some distance from the wreckage, with head injuries and bruises.

"When he regained consciousness, he saw a rescue team looking at the wreckage of the plane but was too weak to call out to them," policeman Herman Ismail said.

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