News Middle East

Thursday 18 September 2014

Dublin dad filming at the heart of carnage in Gaza

Published 01/08/2014 | 11:42

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For the past two weeks, Dublin native and ITN cameraman, Sean Swan, has been at the front-line of the conflict in Gaza capturing some of the most harrowing scenes of his career.

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Originally from Drumcondra, Mr Swan has covered conflict zones in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

But he said that Gaza has been an eye-opener.

"The destruction is so bad because it's so densely populated and there's so much stuff getting sent in. It's in the top five most dangerous places I've ever been," the experienced cameraman told the Herald.

"You have to be careful you don't know what's going to happen.

"I was at a hospital where the kids were brought from the UN school that was bombed. We were there accidentally and for an hour ambulances were just flying in with children."

Mr Swan prefers not to regularly talk publicly about the dangers of his work as he has four children.

The cameraman's footage from the hospital went viral across the world as he caught the carnage of the wards and corridors dealing with babies' bodies injured by shrapnel and the burnt skin of toddlers.

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"There were just so many kids. In my line of work you see a lot but the kids thing is hard to see," he said.

"There was one three-year-old kid and she was burned so badly. Her mum had died and her dad was critical and she'd lost all her siblings."

Mr Swan, whose family live in Howth, spent one week in Israel, before getting across the border to Gaza City. And he admitted that he has had little sleep since his arrival.

"One night the hotel beside me received a warning that it was going to be hit and all the journalists were told to clear out. I slept on the floor of the apartment of the Norwegian consulate," explained Mr Swan.

"Last night was the first decent night's sleep we've had (because of the ceasefire). We slept in the corridors of the hotel," he said. "There were three air strikes within a mile of the hotel."

And during the day while he was out looking for footage to film he and his colleagues 
found themselves close to a firing line.

"Another time there was a strike on three buildings 100 metres away from us and we were the only ones on the road. We got out of the place very quickly, it was a nervous drive," admitted Mr Swan.

He likens the devastating scenes in Gaza to the aftermath of an earthquake. "I've done five or six earthquakes and it just struck me that it looks like there was an earthquake here because this place is just so thrashed," he said.

Mr Swan is now on a list to get out of Gaza tomorrow to return home to his family in Howth as a replacement cameraman has been drafted in.

jfegan@herald.ie

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