Documentary filmmaker Tim Hetherington, an Oscar nominee this year for codirecting the harrowing Afghanistan war story Restrepo, was killed today while chronicling the Libyan civil conflict. He was 40.
Three photographers working alongside him were also injured, with one, Chris Hondros, reportedly suffering a critical brain wound.
While details are still emerging as to exactly what happened, Reuters reported Hetherington and his group were hit by mortar fire.
"Sad news Tim Hetherington died in Misrata now when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status," wrote fellow photographer and longtime Hetherington friend André Liohn on his Facebook page.
Just hours earlier, Hetherington had posted what turned out to be his final Twitter message:
"In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."
There have been conflicting reports about the status of the others. While the New York Times reported that Hondros, an American working for the Getty photo agency, was "clinging to life," several publications have since reported that he succumbed to his wounds. And although Liohn downplayed the condition of another injured colleague, British photographer Guy Martin, the Times reports he endured potentially fatal wounds.
There was happier news about the fourth member of the party that the various reports agree on: Michael Christopher Brown sustained minor shrapnel injuries and is expected to fully recover.
Hetherington and codirector Sebastian Junger made the rounds this past season as Restrepo collected several awards, capped by an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.
"There is no way to express my devastation and sorrow at the death of my dear friend, Tim Hetherington in Misrata, Libya," Junger, whose books include The Perfect Storm and 2010's War, said in a statement. "Tim was one of the most courageous and principled journalists I have ever known.
"The good that he accomplished—both with his camera, and simply as a concerned person in some of the most devastated countries in the world—cannot be measured. I can't believe he is truly gone."
"This is our first time doing all this," Hetherington told E! News at the National Board of Review Awards back in January. "It's all a surprise for us. We're absolutely delighted and honored. The most important thing for us is that the film is being played wide across America and that people are responding to it because, the fact is, people are worried about Afghanistan, and we're worried, and we want the debate to continue. We're so delighted our film is part of that discussion."
Aside from Restrepo, Hetherington was known for his shots of war-torn regions and his work regularly appeared in such magazines as Vanity Fair.
Tim Kelly, President of the National Geographic Society, released the following statement to E! News regarding Hetherington's passing.
"National Geographic is devastated by the tragic news of Tim Hetherington's death in Libya," said Kelly. "This is a sad and terrible day. We join the community of dedicated photojournalists and documentarians around the world who are mourning his loss."
Hetherington's family also sent out a statement as well.
"It is with great sadness we learned that our son and brother, photographer Tim Hetherington, was killed today in Misrata, Libya by a rocket-propelled grenade," it read. "Tim will be remembered for his amazing images and his Academy Award-nominated documentary Restrepo, which he co-produced with his friend Sebastian Junger. Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict. He will be forever missed."
UPDATE (4:25 p.m. PT) : Hondros ultimately died of injuries suffered in the blast.
"Getty Images is deeply saddened to confirm the death of Staff Photographer Chris Hondros who has died of injuries while covering events in Libya on April 20th," the photo agency said in a statement Wednesday. "Chris never shied away from the front line having covered the world's major conflicts throughout his distinguished career and his work in Libya was no exception. We are working to support his family and his fiancée as they receive this difficult news, and are preparing to bring Chris back to his family and friends in the United States. He will be sorely missed."
(Originally published April 20, 2011, at 11:02 a.m. PT)