The heartbreaking story of how an air traffic controller's selfless act cost him his life.

Air traffic controller, 21-year-old Anthonius Gunawan Agung, is being celebrated as a hero after the Indonesian man safely guided a plane off the ground after control tower personnel were evacuated due to a massive earthquake.

Agung joins the death toll of over 400 from the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday. He was working on the fourth floor of the control tower at the Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu when the tremors began.

As reported by the ABC, the walls began to sway and crack, but the 21-year-old successfully guided pilot Icoze Ezoci to takeoff, potentially saving hundreds of lives.

It was only after the plane was in the air that Agung tried to escape the trembling building. At this point the control tower roof was at risk of collapsing, and he jumped from the fourth floor of the tower, breaking his leg and suffering fatal internal injuries.



Although his colleagues took him to the nearest hospital, Agung died on Saturday morning before a helicopter was due to take him to a bigger city hospital to treat his injuries.

“We prepared a helicopter from Balikpapan in Kalimantan to take him to a bigger hospital in another city,” said Yohannes Sirait, a spokesman for Air Navigation Indonesia.

“Unfortunately we lost him this morning before the helicopter reached Palu.”

According to pilot Ezoci, Agung’s last words were: “Batik 6231 runway 33 clear for take off.”


Sharing a tribute on Instagram, he thanked the late air traffic controller for his brave actions.

“Thank you for keeping me and guarding me till I’m safely airborne,” he wrote.

“Wing of honour for Anthonius Gunawan Agung as my guardian angel at Palu. Rest peacefully my wing man. God be with you.”

Since his death, AirNav Indonesia said Agung’s body has since been flown to Mukassar where he will be buried in accordance with his family’s wishes.


Currently CNN estimates there are more than 400 people who are badly injured as a result of the tsunami and earthquake, with many victims still trapped underneath the rubble of collapsed buildings and houses. Thousands of Indonesian residents have also been displaced after the waves and quakes swept away and destroyed the city’s infrastructure.