Associated Press photographer Evgeniy Maloletka won the World Press Photo of the year on Thursday for his harrowing image of emergency workers carrying a pregnant woman through the shattered grounds of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the chaotic aftermath of a Russian attack.
The Ukrainian photographer’s March 9 2022 image of the fatally wounded woman, her left hand on her bloodied lower left abdomen, drove home the horror of Russia’s brutal onslaught in the eastern port city early in the war.
The 32-year-old woman, Iryna Kalinina, died of her injuries a half hour after giving birth to the lifeless body of her baby named Miron.
“For me, it is a moment that all the time I want to forget, but I cannot. The story will always stay with me,” Mr Maloletka said in an interview ahead of the announcement.
She added: “Without his unflinching courage, little would be known of one of Russia’s most brutal attacks. We are enormously proud of him.”
AP Director of Photography J David Ake added: “It’s not often that a single image becomes seared into the world’s collective memory.
“Evgeniy Maloletka lived up to the highest standards of photojournalism by capturing the decisive moment, while upholding the tradition of AP journalists worldwide to shine a light on what would have otherwise remained unseen.”
They stayed for more than two weeks, chronicling the Russian military pounding the city and hitting hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.
An AP investigation found that as many as 600 people may have been killed when a Mariupol theatre being used as a bomb shelter was hit on March 16 last year.
The pair were the only international journalists left in the city when they finally managed a risky escape.
In the three other global categories announced on Thursday, two-time World Press Photo winner Mads Nissen of Denmark won Photo Story of the Year for his series for Politiken and Panos Pictures, titled The Price of Peace in Afghanistan, about daily life in Afghanistan in 2022.
Anush Babajanyan of Armenia won the Long-Term Project award for Battered Waters for VII Photo and National Geographic Society, and Egyptian photographer Mohamed Mahdy won the Open Format award for Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me.
The four global winners were selected from more than 60,000 entries submitted by 3,752 entrants from 127 countries.