While covering clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State militant group in Syria, Italian freelance photojournalist Gabriele Micalizzi was severely injured. He was photographing the conflict in the village of Baghuz on 11 February 2019 when shrapnel hit him. Luckily, he survived and is recovering – and he claims that his Leica cameras saved his life.
According to CPJ, CNN photographer and filmmaker Gabriel Chaim was with Micalizzi when he was injured. He confirmed that the photographer was hit by shrapnel from an RPG (rocket propelled grenade). It hurt his head, his left eye and ear, and different parts of his body. Chaim further said that Micalizzi was taken to a field hospital first, then to the Omar Oilfield base, before being transported to a hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, on a U.S. military plane.
Although Micalizzi was severely injured, he is now recovering. He is currently at San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy, from where he told his story to Corriere della Sera.
I can tell you the story now, in a corridor of San Raffaele hospital, thanking those who did everything for me. The Kurdish military, the American doctors, the Italian embassy. My Leica camera, too. If I hadn’t been holding it in front of my face, I wouldn’t be here to talk about it: in the impact it damaged my eyes, but it served as a shield.
Micalizzi said that he was wearing a helmet, a bullet-proof vest, and all the right gear. “We’re professionals, we don’t improvise,” he added. Although he and his colleagues know how to estimate the risks, he admits: that morning, he was maybe just a bit too relaxed.
Due to the injury, Micalizzi lost a phalanx, he will need to have surgery on his arm, and his eyesight has been damaged. He struggles to read, and he’s deaf in one ear. But, it could have been much worse, and he’s grateful that it wasn’t. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Micalizzi said that, when he hit the ground, he was convinced that he was dead. However, he added that the fact that he was photographing helped him. “The camera can be said to have saved my life” he added, and photos of his Leicas (Q and SL) have recently appeared on Reddit.
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Following the recent events regarding our photographer, co founder, friend and brother Gabriele Micalizzi in Syria, we would like to update you on his conditions. Gabriele is currently in Baghdad’s military hospital and is being carefully looked after by their medics for his lesion on eyes and arms. Yesterday we talked with Gabriele on the phone and he confirmed he is feeling fine, he is able to stand up and can see from both his eyes even if blurry. We are extremely happy to be able to dispute the recent news about the loss of his left eye which the media published without the necessary fact checking. Gabriele, the Micalizzi family and cesura would like to thank the people who very quickly and efficiently helped to rescue and evacuate him from the area of the accident. We would like to thank the Farnesina Crisis Unit and Italian diplomatic network for quickly jumping to action, keeping us constantly updated and for organising Gabriele’s return in italy. Furthermore, thank you to the whole medical team at the American hospital in Baghdad who took him in and with great dedication is taking care of him. We would also like to thank the journalist Fausto Biloslavo, @francesco.semprini and @gabrielchaim for the support during the evacuation operations and lawyer Alessandra Ballerini for the constant and precious help. Thank you to all the people who helped us handle this emergency situation in the best way possible. We will still have to wait a few days longer to see Gabriele in Italy again and hug him but the operations to bring him back home are already under way and the hospital ready to welcome him. We are waiting for you Never never never give up Cesura
We’ve seen that photography can help you in many ways and improve your life. But when photography saves your life… Well, that takes things to a whole new level.
[via The Phoblographer]