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Passings : Francoise Demulder

Won World Press Photo award

September 09, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Francoise Demulder, 61, a French photojournalist who was the first woman to win the World Press Photo of the Year award, died Wednesday of a heart attack at a hospital near Paris, journalist Genevieve Lamouroux, a longtime friend, told the Associated Press. She had been in declining health for several years, battling cancer.

Demulder, who covered many of the major conflicts of the late 20th century, won praise for a striking black-and-white photograph of a Palestinian woman raising her hands at a masked militiaman in Beirut's war-ravaged La Quarantaine district. She won the 1976 World Press Photo award for the image, becoming the first woman to win the honor.

"You look at that photo and that picture symbolizes, at least for the outside world, all the nasty little wars in Beirut that went on for so long," said Jonathan Randal, a former Washington Post correspondent who knew Demulder in Lebanon.

Demulder, who went by the nickname "Fifi," was born in Paris. Tall and striking, she worked briefly as a model but set off for Vietnam at 19 to cover the war. Over the next three decades, she covered conflicts in Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.

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