A helicopter carrying aid from Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous government to stranded Yazidi refugees in the Sinjar mountains of northern Iraq crashed on Tuesday, killing the pilot and injuring other passengers, including a New York Times journalist on assignment for the newspaper.
Alissa J. Rubin, 56, The Times’s Paris bureau chief and a longtime war correspondent, suffered an apparent concussion and broken wrists but was conscious, she confirmed when contacted briefly by cellphone. Adam Ferguson, 35, a freelance photographer working for The Times who was accompanying her, said via cellphone that he was not injured.
According to crash survivors, the helicopter went down shortly after takeoff. The cause of the incident has yet to be confirmed.
Update (2:45 p.m.):
Moises Saman, a photographer with agency Magnum Photos, also survived the crash and has spoken to Time magazine about this harrowing experience.
Update (Aug. 13):
Executive editor Dean Baquet today updated NYT staff on the condition of Rubin and Ferguson, via memo:
As you all know, our colleague Alissa Rubin was injured in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq on Tuesday. The good news is that she is now in stable condition at the American Hospital in Istanbul. She is in the intensive care unit, mainly so she can be observed closely.
Rod Nordland, her equally courageous, longtime partner in covering Afghanistan, is with her. Her husband, James, is on the way, and may even be there already. Joe Kahn is also headed to Istanbul. Rod reports that Alissa is in good spirits, occasionally managing to laugh.
Adam Ferguson, a freelance photographer who was working with Alissa, has aches and pains that he describes as minor. Rod had to talk him into staying in the hospital for observation.
I think our collective prayers were answered on this one.
This is a good time to reflect on our colleagues who are covering the world at a particularly violent, tumultuous time. I don’t recall a period when so many writers, photographers and videographers have been in harm’s way for The Times and other news organizations, taking risks and living away from their families to tell important stories. People like Alissa, Rod, Tyler Hicks and Chris Chivers have done it for more than a decade, through overlapping wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A new group of journalists is still working in those countries, as well as in Africa, Gaza, Libya and Ukraine. We are profoundly indebted to them.
Alissa’s mother, Enid, said she was tremendously proud of her daughter, and she asked if Alissa had gotten to file her story from the scene yet!
I am going to steal from a couple of late-night emails because I couldn’t say it better. Michael Slackman wrote that “we work with brave, committed people who risk it all to bear witness and make sure people are heard.” Adam Nossiter, when I wrote to him about his coverage of the spread of the Ebola virus, replied, “It is a hell of a paper, every day.”
Well, it is. But it would not be without the journalists who are risking their lives. There is no better moment than this to remember how lucky we are to have them as colleagues.