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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 16:44 GMT
ITV crew missing in Iraq
ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd
ITV News correspondent Terry Lloyd is among those missing
Three members of an ITV News crew are missing after they came under fire on their way to the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Efforts to find British TV reporter Terry Lloyd, cameraman Fred Nerac and local translator Hussein Othman are under way, following the attack at Iman Anas.

Another member of the team, cameraman Daniel Demoustier, was able to reach safety having suffered minor injuries.

He was not able to see what happened to his colleagues and said: "I'm really praying that they're still okay."

'Every effort'

The team had been travelling in two vehicles towards Iraq's second city, the scene of heavy fighting.

ITV News said: "There were British and Iraqi forces in the area at the time.

"Coalition and Iraqi military sources have been unable to confirm their whereabouts.

"Every effort is being made to establish what happened."

Heavy gunfire

Mr Demoustier, who had a heavy black eye and cuts to his face, said the ITV crew had passed many Iraqi civilians out on the streets and their cars on the road.

Daniel Demoustier
I had to duck down straight away, windows were exploding inside the car
Daniel Demoustier

"We saw tanks burning, we saw trucks burning, helmets, lots of signs of heavy fighting from probably last night.

"But it looked like it was pretty under control now and so you move step by step and we put big TV signs on the car."

After passing British and US positions Mr Demoustier saw Iraqi forces approaching and turned his vehicle around when he noticed they were still armed.

'Duck down'

Two Iraqi vehicles followed them, the occupants making "thumbs up" signs, which Mr Demoustier took to mean they wanted to surrender using them as cover.

"But at that same moment very heavy gunfire started towards my car, from the right hand side.

"I had to duck down straight away, windows were exploding inside the car.

"In a split second I looked to my right side and the right door where my correspondent (Terry Lloyd) was open and he was not there anymore," he said.

Mr Demoustier, who survived by jumping into a ditch just before the oil covered vehicle exploded, said he hoped his colleagues escaped in a similar way.

"I saw another press vehicle - colleagues from the Mail on Sunday - and they just arrived on the scene and I took a run to that car and they got me out," he added.

Chemical bomb

News correspondent Terry Lloyd, 51, joined ITN, which makes news for ITV, as a local television reporter in 1983.
Basra area
Basra has been captured by US and UK forces

He has wide-ranging experience, including stints in Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia and Cambodia.

He reported from the Iraqi city of Halabje, after Saddam Hussein dropped a chemical bomb on Kurdish people inside the country.

In January 1993 Mr Lloyd was on board the US aircraft carrier Kittyhawk as it launched planes against Iraq.

'Major battle'

News of the attack came as officials announced that US and UK forces were closing in on Basra, Iraq's second city.

A US spokesman earlier said there was a "major battle" on the way to the city.

A large contingent of about 8,000 British troops in 120 tanks and 145 armoured vehicles were moved into southern Iraq from Kuwait to support US forces.

The advance included the "Desert Rats" of the 7th Armoured Division and paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, officials said.



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