Two photojournalists killed, others severely injured in Libya

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British photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington and US photographer Chris Hondros have been killed while covering the conflict in Libya.

Fellow photographer first André Liohn reported the news on his Facebook page with this message: “Sad news Tim Hetherington died in Misrata now when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status. Michel Brown and Guy are wounded but fine.” BJP can confirm that Guy Martin, a young British photographer, was wounded in the attack.

In the comments that followed, Liohn – who said he was at the hospital with both photographers – added that Hondros had later also died.

The news was confirmed late on 21 April with The New York Times reporting that Hondros died of his injuries. “Hondros suffered an extensive loss of brain tissue and was revived twice before being triaged from care,” reports the newspaper. “He spent several hours in a coma and died after 10 p.m.”

In a statement, Getty Images says that it is “deeply saddened to confirm the death of staff photographer Chris Hondros, who has died of injuries while covering events in Libya on 20 April.”

The agency adds: “Chris never shied away from the front line having covered the world’s major conflicts throughout his distinguished career and his work in Libya was no exception. We are working to support his family and his fiancée as they receive this difficult news, and are preparing to bring Chris back to his family and friends in the United States. He will be sorely missed.”

Hetherington’s family has released the following statement: “It is with great sadness we learned that our son and brother photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington was killed today in Misrata, Libya by a rocket-propelled grenade. Tim will be remembered for his amazing images and his Academy Award nominated documentary “Restrepo” which he co-produced with his friend Sebastian Junger. Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict. He will be forever missed.”

The Guardian reports that “according to colleagues at the scene, Hetherington and Hondros were among a group of about eight or 10 journalists reporting from the bridge on Tripoli Street in Misrata on Wednesday afternoon, regarded as the frontline between rebels and Gaddafi’s forces. When shooting broke out, the group split in two. Hetherington’s group of five journalists took shelter against a wall, which was then hit by mortar or RPG fire.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a statement: “Our hearts go out to family, friends, and colleagues of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, whose work in some of the world’s most dangerous places has had a profound impact on how we understand and perceive war,” says Joel Simon, CPJ executive director. “Their deaths are another illustration of war’s cruelty and a reminder of how devastatingly difficult coverage of the Libyan conflict has become.”

According to Business Insider, Hetherington tweeted yesterday: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

Reuters has released this image of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington being treated for his injuries. BJP understands that the agency chose to publish the photo because “we can’t shy away from covering a story this important. We have shown soldiers, men, women and children injured and killed and we can’t decide not to cover a story such as this one just because it is one of our colleagues.” (BJP chose to publish this photo for the same reasons).

(Credit for the image: Doctors and medics attend to Getty photographer Chris Hondros (foreground) and photojournalist Tim Hetherington (obscured) in a Misrata hospital April 20, 2011. © Yannis Behrakis / Reuters.)

Born in Liverpool in 1970, Hetherington was nominated for an Oscar this year for Restrepo, the documentary film he made with the journalist Sebastian Junger. He also won World Press Photo in 2008 with a still image from the same location in Afghanistan, shot while on assignment for Vanity Fair.

In 2004 Hondros was a Nominated Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography for his work in Liberia, and in 2006 he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his work in Iraq.

Michael Regnier, picture editor at Hetherington’s UK stock agency, Panos Pictures, told BJP that he and everyone else there were devastated at the news.

Last year, Hetherington posted a video diary on Vimeo, describing it as “is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It’s a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media”.

Diary (2010) from Tim Hetherington on Vimeo.

He also described his experiences in Afghanistan to Colin Jacobson, former picture editor of The Independent Magazine, for a feature published in BJP in December 2009. Commenting on embedding with the US military, he stated: “You have to sign an agreement with the [US] military that effectively removes the possibility of anyone suing them should you be injured or killed….Before printing the image of a dead soldier, you need to ensure that the army has had time to notify the family.’

Hetherington added that his work ensured the carnage of war was seen by the general public, however, adding: “I broadcast a dead US soldier on ABC news that was viewed by 22 million people. I showed on US network TV images of the aftermath (three hours later) of an Apache helicopter attack on a house that killed five Afghans and wounded ten others (mostly women and children)….I was filming a soldier who had just been shot and his friends were crying over the body. One of them freaked out on me but later the same day, he apologised and said he understood why I was there and appreciated our presence.”

Hondros was born in New York City to immigrant Greek and German parents, both survivors of World War II, he moved to North Carolina as a child, his online biography reads. “After studying English literature at North Carolina State and taking his Master’s degree at Ohio’s School of Visual Communications, Hondros returned to New York to concentrate on international reporting. Hondros has covered most of the world’s major conflicts since the late 1990s, including wars in Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq, and Liberia.”

His work has appeared on the covers of magazines such as Newsweek and The Economist, and on the front pages of most major American newspapers, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.


Read more about Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros:

Chris Hondros, at work in Libya – The New York Times’ Lens blog.

In Memoriam: Tim Hetherington – The New Yorker.

‘Restrepo’ director is killed in Libya – The New York Times.

Photographer Tim Hetherington killed in Libya – The Guardian.

A Tribute to Tim Hetherington – The Documentary Blog.

Tim Hetherington: In His Own Words – Human Rights Watch.

Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington – BagNews Notes.

Tim Hetherington, HOST Podcast (October 2010) – Foto8.

Chris Hondros: Life Behind the Lens – MSNBC Video.

Tim Hetherington 1970-2011 – Panos Pictures.

Remembering Tim Hetherington – Foreign Policy Passport.

Photojournalists Hetherington, Hondros dead in Libya – Committee to Protect Journalists.

Parting glance: Tim Hetherington – The New York Times’ Lens blog.

Parting glance: Chris Hondros – The New York Times’ Lens blog.

The Integrity of Tim Hetherington – 1000 Words Magazine.