Libya Crash: Sole Survivor's Family Speaks

Family says child who survived Libya crash is making 'incredible' progress.

TILBURG, The Netherlands, May 18, 2010 — -- Ruben van Assouw, the 9-year-old sole survivor of the plane crash in Libya last week, is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, the boy's family said in a statement released this morning.

"He has had a bite to eat and has been watching a little TV," the statement read. "It is incredible how quickly he is improving."

The family said the boy, who underwent four-and-a-half hours of surgery to repair multiple fractures in both his legs after the devastating accident Wednesday, will have to undergo another operation.

"The surgery will be scheduled as soon as Ruben is strong enough," the statement read.

Ruben's parents, Patrick, 40, and Trudy, 41, along with his 11-year-old brother Enzo died last week when their plane crashed on approach to the airport in Tripoli, Libya.

The family had been on a camping holiday in South Africa to celebrate Patrick and Trudy's twelve-and-a-half year wedding anniversary, a Dutch tradition.

Their youngest son was the only survivor of the fiery wreck that killed all 103 other passengers onboard.

Rescue workers found Ruben still strapped in his seat near the front of the plane, unconscious, but breathing.

The boy was flown back to the Netherlands by Libyan ambulance jet on Saturday, accompanied by two doctors and his aunt and uncle, who had traveled to Tripoli to be at their nephew's side.

Ruben's Family: He is 'Foremost in Our Minds'

"Ruben was fortunately not afraid to fly," the family said of the flight home. "And he was very happy to see his family again. As soon as he saw his little cousins, it was as if we had the Ruben back who we know and love so much."

A spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry told ABC News none of the victims of the crash have been identified at this time, including the remains of Ruben's parents and brother.

"The process of identification will still take quite some time," Christoph Prommersberger said.

Ruben's family said their focus for now is on the little boy.

"Ruben has been first and foremost in our minds so far. We know that we have had to postpone our sorrow for the loved ones we lost. We are now trying to catch our breath a bit, because we realize that the next blow will come quickly," the statement read.

In the tight-knit neighborhood of the small city in which Ruben and his family lived, neighbors are still reeling from the news of his accident.

Flowers line the doorstep of the family's modest home. Children's drawings are taped to the door. A candle burns on the doorstep, and a small teddy bear sits nearby.

"It's like a bomb has hit," Betsy Snoeren, 57, told ABC News of the mood in the quiet neighborhood where she has lived for 40 years. "This community is very close, especially with the kids. The boys used to play soccer with their friends out on the street here."

"That boy is all alone now," said Snoeren, who lives across from the van Assouws' home and said the two young brothers used to run out of the house to pet her dog, Aldam. "I hope they take good care of him."

Ruben's Teachers, Classmates Grieve Loss Together

Nearby, at the small brick elementary school where Ruben is in the third grade and his brother Enzo was in the sixth grade, teachers and students were grieving the loss of one of their own.

On Monday morning, children returning for the first day of school after a two-week spring vacation filed past two tables set up in the hallway.

On one stood flowers, notes, and pictures of the three van Assouws who perished in the crash.

"Enzo, Trudy, Patrick," a sign read. "You'll be forever in our heart."

On the other table rested a single picture of Ruben, smiling, his auburn hair to his shoulders, along with flowers and well-wishes from his classmates.

"This family was so nice, and really involved with the school," principal Elly Sebregts told ABC News. "The children were exceptionally friendly and very loved. It is just devastating that three of them have been taken from us."

Sebregts said she didn't know when Ruben would return to the classroom.

"That is up to the family," she said. "We will welcome him with a lot of love and warmth [when he does come back]."

In today's statement Ruben's family thanked the public for their sympathy in a difficult time, but asked to be left alone.

"We sincerely hope that our privacy will be respected so that we can deal with our loss in peace," they wrote.