Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sadly another...


KABUL, Afghanistan — A British photographer on a foot patrol with Afghan and American soldiers in southern Afghanistan was gravely wounded this week when he stepped on a makeshift bomb, military officials and his family said.

The photographer, Giles Duley, was working on Monday beside soldiers from the First Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, near the village of Sangsar in rural Kandahar Province when he stepped on a pressure plate that detonated a hidden explosive charge, according to the United States military.

Mr. Duley, 39, lost one leg below the knee, the other leg above the knee and his left arm was severed above the elbow, according to his brother, David Duley. A finger on his right hand was fractured, and he had other superficial wounds. He was the second photographer to suffer multiple amputations while covering the military campaign in Kandahar since last fall.

But he did not suffer internal injuries or a head wound, his brother said by telephone, and he has been conscious and lucid while undergoing treatment in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. No one else was wounded in the blast.

A freelancer associated with the Camera Press agency in London, Mr. Duley was formerly a fashion and music photographer, shooting for GQ, Esquire and other magazines. He had in recent years shifted his focus to humanitarian causes.

He has worked in Africa, Asia, Ukraine and elsewhere, documenting suffering and seeking “inspiring stories of the human spirit, stories that would otherwise remain untold in an era of commercialized media and news,” according to a written statement from his family and agency.

One his photographs, of a woman in southern Sudan delivering a stillborn child, was a 2010 prize winner in the Prix de la Photographie Paris.

Mr. Duley had been in Afghanistan less than two weeks when he was wounded, and he was covering military operations for the first time. The statement said that he had traveled to Afghanistan in late January intending “to cover the plight of bomb victims, but an opportunity presented itself to join front-line action with the U.S. Army; an offer that the true photojournalist within him couldn’t resist.”

His brother said he had a clear view of the risks. “He was fully aware of where he was going and what he was getting himself into,” he said.

Sangsar, the village where the Taliban reorganized in the 1990s and began their spread through much of Afghanistan, lies in an impoverished agricultural zone along the Arghandab River basin.

Since last year, the area has been the focus of a large United States-led offensive to subdue the insurgency and develop an Afghan government presence in one of the regions where the Taliban have been strongest.

The American and Afghan patrol was clearing a compound when Mr. Duley stepped on the pressure plate, according to Lt. Col. Michael D. Wirt, an Army doctor at Patrol Base Wilson, an American outpost near Sangsar.

Soldiers applied three tourniquets to his wounds and stabilized him, Colonel Wirt said. He was evacuated by a Black Hawk medevac helicopter and flown to the NATO military hospital at Kandahar Air Field.

David Bowering, a Canadian photographer traveling with the medevac crew, said that Mr. Duley, though in terrible physical condition when the helicopter arrived, “put up a good battle.”

“He was coherent most of the way,” he said. “He answered questions.”

In late October, Joao Silva, a photographer working for The New York Times, stepped on an antipersonnel land mine in another village near the Arghandab River. He lost both legs and suffered other wounds.

This week, after being fitted with prosthetic legs, Mr. Silva took his first steps.

David Duley said that his brother, consistent with his demeanor on the helicopter flight, was “surprising everyone with his resilience and humor.” He was awake on Thursday, and had been talking, joking and flirting with a nurse.

Mr. Duley had planned to start his own quarterly journal, tentatively titled Document, his brother said, and added that Mr. Duley, like Mr. Silva, has already said he will resume his work.

“Giles is a triple amputee, but he is still a photographer,” he said. “He still intends to do what he does. This is not going to stop him.”


Barbara Nelson Photography said...

Hi Cami
I check your blog every so often to see if you have any news on your new apartment and living in DC. It's been awhile since you posted. Hope all is going well.
Barbara Nelson

Barbara Nelson Photography said...

Hi Cami
Looking for some updates from you. How are the new digs in DC.
Barbara Nelson