Life After the Photo: Kim Phuc Phan Thi Shares her Life Story After Iconic Photo was Taken

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8 June 1972, a plane bombed the village of Trang Bang, near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in South Vietnam after the South Vietnamese pilot mistook a group of civilians leaving the temple for enemy troops.

The bombs contained napalm, a highly flammable fuel, which killed and badly burned the people on the ground.

The iconic black-and-white image taken of children fleeing the scene won the Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as the World Press Photo of the Year in 1972.

It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words never could, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history and later becoming a symbol of the cruelty of all wars for children and civilian victims.

In the centre of the photo was a nine year old girl, who ran naked down the highway after stripping off her burning clothes.

Kim Phuc Phan Thi was with her family at the pagoda attending a religious celebration when the plane struck and lost several relatives in the attack. The children running with her were her own brothers and sisters.

I had the privilege of hearing Kim speak at a meeting in New Zealand a few years ago and the 40th anniversary of the bombing was commemorated last year.

She said, looking back, that three miracles happened on that dreadful day.

kimorangeThe first was that, despite suffering extensive third degree burns to her left arm, back and side, the soles of her feet were not burnt and she could run.

The second was that after she collapsed and lost consciousness the photographer, Nick Ut, took her to Barsky Hospital in Saigon.

The third was that her own mother found her there later that day whilst searching for her children.

Kim remained hospitalized for 14 months, and underwent 17 surgical procedures, until she recovered from the burns.

Grateful for the care she had received she later decided to…

This article continues at perdana4peace.org

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