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Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Photo that haunted the world
Pulitzer Prize winning photo by Nick Ut
The photograph that won Nick Ut a Pulitzer Prize
The photograph of Kim Phuc running from a napalm attack on her village, with her clothes burnt off, was one of the most striking images of the Vietnam War.

It captured the moment on 8 June 1972 when nine-year old Kim Phuc's life changed forever.

Now a Unesco goodwill ambassador, she spoke to the BBC about her experience.

In 1972 a napalm bomb was dropped on my village in south Vietnam. A photographer, Nick Ut, took a picture of me running away from the fire and that photo is very famous.

I remember I was nine years old, just a child. That night we heard the Viet Cong were coming and that they wanted to use the village. And then in the daytime, the soldiers came in and there was fighting.



I was crying and I was running out of the fire and the miracle was my feet were not burned.

We were so scared. I remember my family decided to seek refuge in the temple, the pagoda, because we thought it was a holy place. We could seek refuge there and we could be safe. I did not hear the explosion but I saw the fire around me.

And suddenly my clothes were burnt off by fire. I saw the fire over my body and especially my arm. I remember at that moment I thought I would be ugly, and not normal like other children.

I was so scared because I did not see anyone around me. Just fire and smoke. I was crying and I was running out of the fire and the miracle was my feet were not burned. I kept running and running and running.

My parents could not get past the fire, so they turned back to the temple and they sheltered there. My aunt and two cousins died. One was three years old and one just nine months - two babies.

After that I passed out.

Healing

Nick Ut took us to the hospital nearby. And then he dropped us there and ran into the darkroom to develop the film that he took.

There in the small hospital they told me they were moving us, the people who were wounded, to Saigon hospital. And then two days later my parents found me in the hospital.



That picture can tell people how terrible war is for children.

The time I was in hospital was so long - 14 months. I had 17 operations to repair the first-degree burns over half my body.

That was a turning point in my life. It made me dream about how to help people.

My parents had the picture from the newspaper and they kept it very well and they showed it to me - "That is you when you were wounded," they said.

I could not believe it was me because it was so terrible.

Everybody should see that picture. Even now.

Because that picture can tell people how terrible war is for children. You can see it in my face. Everybody can see that picture and they can learn.


This is an adapted transcript of audio that appears on the BBC World Service My Century website.

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See also:

19 Nov 99 | Crossing continents
Poisoned legacy of the Vietnam War
13 Mar 98 | MyLai
Vietnam 1945 to 1975: timeline
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