Adrees Latif wins ICP Infinity Award for Photojournalism

February 8, 2011

Marooned flood victims looking to escape grab the side bars of a hovering Army helicopter which arrived to distribute food supplies in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province August 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Pakistan chief photographer Adrees Latif has won the prestigious ICP Infinity Award in Photojournalism for his outstanding coverage of last year’s Pakistan floods. Working under the most difficult of conditions he led the Reuters pictures team to tell the story from every possible angle. His images were published daily across international front pages, bringing attention to the enormity of the catastrophe from its early stages. Latif’s work has received numerous industry accolades including the Pulitzer prize for Breaking News Photography in 2008.

An Army helicopter drops relief supplies to flood victims in Pakistan's Rajanpur district in Punjab province August 15, 2010.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Resident Ikramulla, 37, stands near a pen where he lost a handful of water buffalos to floods in Nowshera, located in Pakistan's northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province August 1, 2010.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Residents being evacuated through flood waters dodge an army truck carrying relief supplies for flood victims in Pakistan's Muzaffargarh district in Punjab province August 11, 2010.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Flood victims crowd the back of a trailer while evacuating to higher grounds in Pakistan's Muzaffargarh district in Punjab province August 11, 2010.   REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Adrees recounts how he took the award-winning image of marooned flood victims grasping on to an army helicopter as they tried to escape.

Heavy monsoon rains in late July 2010 caused widespread flooding across Pakistan, sweeping away entire villages and killing at least 1,600 people and displacing 10 million. Water submerged around one-fifth of the country and led to the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis in decades. A week into the crisis, flooding had submerged areas of southern Pujab province while leaving a trail of death, damaged infrastructure and an uncertain future in the north of the country. As the flood waters ravaged villages and towns along the Indus River basin, I too followed its trail of destruction. After spending days wading through flood waters to tell the story, I arrived in Multan on August 6 in the hope of getting a seat upon a helicopter taking part in relief efforts. My goal was to bring light to the vast amount of landmass the floods had covered, the same viewpoint that made U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon note the Pakistan floods were worst disaster he had ever seen.

On the morning of August 7, I was granted a seat upon an Army helicopter that was to deliver relief supplies to flooded villages in the Muzaffargarh district of Punjab. After loading the chopper with packets of cooked rice mixed with chickpeas, the crew and a handful of journalists departed in search of marooned villagers. We soon spotted families taking refuge on a cemetery, the only landmass in the area above water. As the helicopter came down to land, dozens of men and boys started to charge, forcing the pilots to hover over the crowd.

As the doors to the helicopter opened to distribute food supplies, I saw my chance for a different angle and took a step back before leaping past the crewmen and meters below onto the ground. I knew I had as much time to document the reality of the moment as it would take the crewmen to distribute the relief supplies they had brought. Tripping over mounds and gravestones, I managed to find enough distance from the helicopter to show dozens of hands reaching into the air to catch food rations being thrown down. Seconds later, I fought the dust and force from the propellers to return under the belly of the hovering craft to captured images of villagers hanging onto the skids in hopes being rescued.

After capturing an image that showed their desperation, I went behind the crowd to make eye contact with the crewmen, letting them know I wanted to get back onboard before they departed. After getting the visual go-ahead to return, I raced towards the doorways and with the help of a villager, hurdled over the crowd before being pulled up single handedly by a crewman. As the helicopter started to take off, the elderly man in the photograph, with a white scarf around his neck, managed to hang on and was pulled to safety.

Click here to view a slideshow of Adrees’ flood coverage.


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Congratulations Adrees!

Posted by vivpix | Report as abusive

Congratulations – great work!

Posted by SOOMRO | Report as abusive

makes me realize how good my life here really is.

Posted by corvids2 | Report as abusive

Adrees, your pictures have inspired as an upcoming photographer. Keep up the spirit.

Posted by Collinskaumba1 | Report as abusive

What a great work!!! <3

Posted by lynnmia11 | Report as abusive