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'Killing Fields' Survivor Dith Pran Passes


Dith Pran, a New York Times photographer and survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime whose plight was made famous by the film "The Killing Fields," died in New Jersey Sunday morning, friends of the deceased said.

The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Sidney Schanberg, a former colleague at the Times and life-long friend, told VOA Khmer Dith Pran had been a determined reporter, staying in Cambodia as the Khmer Rouge rose to power in order to document for the world the brutality of the regime and the story of the Cambodian people.

Born Sept. 23, 1942, in Siem Reap province, Dith Pran was captured by the Khmer Rouge after refusing to evacuate Phnom Penh with his family in 1975, instead staying to help Schanberg in his coverage of the conflict.

Schanberg has said that he and other journalists would have been killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers in April 1975 had Dith Pran not intervened.

Dith Pran escaped the "killing fields" in 1979 and was reunited with his family and Schanberg.

He continued to work as a photographer for the Times and to crusade for the plight of Cambodians still embroiled in conflict and poverty.

Dith Sermoeun was Dith Pran's first wife and mother of his four children. She was by his bedside during the final weeks.

Before his death, she said, his memory was slipping and he was able to say little.

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