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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Iraq journalist's leg amputated
Stuart Hughes
Stuart is taking strength in his 'miraculous' escape
The journalist whose foot was blown up by a landmine in northern Iraq has talked of his "miraculous" escape from the blast which killed his cameraman.

BBC producer Stuart Hughes was part of a four-man team filming in Kifri when cameraman Kaveh Golestan, 52, stepped on the device last week.

Stuart survived, but one of three explosions ruined his right foot; doctors amputated it on Monday.

Back in his home city Cardiff, where he previously worked with BBC Radio Wales for several years, Stuart, 31, said his crew thought they were being shelled from afar - until they were struck hard from below.

Minefield

The incident happened on 2 April as Iraqi soldiers abandoned positions held in Kifri.

It still doesn't feel like all this has happened to me - it's as though I'm in a dream that I'll soon wake up from - deep down, though, I know that's not the case
Stuart Hughes, weblog entry
"When we heard the first bang - me stepping on the landmine - we thought it was an incoming shell," Stuart said on Tuesday, as the war claimed its twelfth journalist fatality.

"Only seconds later, when our translator told us it was a mine, [we realised] our guide had guided us straight in to a minefield."

Stuart and Iranian freelancer Kaveh had stepped on an anti-tank mine; it seriously disfigured his heel.

He did not know where to look: "Where do I step? Do I try and run? Do I try and hop? I could see the extent of my injuries. I was convinced I was going to die."

Stuart was treated at a makeshift field hospital before being flown to a US military hospital at Sulaymaniya and, later, back home to Wales.

Bravery

But, as the true picture of his injuries became clear, doctors found tissue which would otherwise be used to reconstruct his foot had been blown away. They amputated from below the knee on Monday.

Stuart Hughes
Kaveh Golestan had worked for the BBC for about three years
Stuart's courage in the face of adversity is striking, however - he has found a remarkable bravery in merely escaping with his life, if not his leg.

"Kaveh didn't make it; how I made it through I still don't know. I'm not a religious person, but it does border on the miraculous," he said.

Since arriving in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq in February, Stuart has been keeping a touching weblog of his travels and opinions during the unfolding conflict.

STUART HUGHES: FACTS
Began BBC career as Good Morning Wales researcher for BBC Radio Wales
Later promoted to producer
Moved to London to work as radio reporter in 1997
Was working with Jim Muir in Kurdish northern Iraq
He is still updating it with news of his treatment, writing that he has lost "an old friend" in having his limb amputated.

Readers have been with him as he donned a flak jacket for the first time and as he played a relaxing game of cards with colleagues, for example.

Many followers, some of whom were already friends, have now annotated his entries with personal messages of support.

They appear to have worked. Stuart's latest entry affirms resolutely: "Now, at least, it's over and tomorrow - when I'm assured I'll be allowed alcohol - I'll open a bottle of champagne and celebrate life. "




WATCH AND LISTEN
Stuart Hughes
"I'll open a bottle of champagne and celebrate life"



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