SYDNEY (AFP) – Rival Australian news crews said Monday that saving a life came before doing their jobs when they rescued an 18-month-old baby from underneath the rubble in earthquake-devastated Haiti.
The little girl was lying alongside the bodies of her dead parents who were killed in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which hit Port-au-Prince on January 12 when the camera crews heard her moans and began to dig her out on Friday.
Richard Moran, a cameraman with the commercial Nine Network, put down his camera and lifted pieces of concrete out of the way while Nine’s interpreter and fixer Deiby Celestino climbed into the tangled mess to retrieve the child.
“And then, out of the ruins came this little girl, and I will never forget it. She did not cry. She looked astonished, almost as if she was seeing the world for the first time,” Nine reporter Robert Penfold told The Australian.
The images of the child’s rescue were captured by Nine’s major rival Seven, and footage beamed around the world showed Seven’s correspondent Mike Amor holding the dusty little girl and giving her water.
“That moment, it was beyond news,” Amor said. “I haven’t seen anything so remarkable since the birth of my own child. The emotion for all of us has been incredible.”
Amor said the news crews and the locals who had helped locate the girl were concentrated on rescuing the child rather than news priorities.
“The focus of everybody on that hill was the little girl, and as any of us will tell you, it was Deiby who went into that hole, and dug, and dug, until he got that little girl out. He’s the hero,” he told The Australian.
Footage of the rescue is available on Seven’s website, tagged: “Mike Amor’s amazing rescue”.
Channel Nine’s news director Mark Calvert said while disasters can sometimes bring out the very worst in journalists, they can also produce the best.
“I’m proud of the Nine News team, who put the welfare of the little girl before their own safety, and placed their personal convictions before professional pressures,” he said in a statement to AFP.
“Yes, they put down their camera to help. But they also filed their story. And most importantly, they helped save a life.”