MEDIA
08/01/2014 10:15 am ET Updated Aug 01, 2014

Reporter Nearly Killed By Gunfire At MH17 Crash Site

An SBS News reporter and Al Jazeera English contributor was caught in the middle of direct gunfire Thursday near the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash site.

The Australian news service said that journalist Nick Lazaredes is "lucky to be alive" Friday. Lazaredes told SBS Radio he was leaving the MH17 crash site when shooting broke out around him and his group.

"We hit the ground," he said. "Eventually our driver managed to get us out of the situation. He took off his shirt, which was white, and waved it out of the car. We put our heads down and we drove out. We were fired upon again as we drove out."

Fighting in Ukraine has quickly resumed despite the announcement of a one-day ceasefire Thursday. Lazaredes told colleagues that the area is still very much in conflict, stating, "there's no ceasefire. No ceasefire at all."

SBS News reporter Calliste Weitenberg tweeted updates about Lazaredes' condition:

While it's unclear whom the gunfire was coming from -- and whether the SBS crew was being directly targeted -- Lazaredes said he and other journalists are referring to the aggressors as pro-Russian "separatists," SBS News reported. Earlier this week, Lazaredes tweeted about a threat his crew received from a separatist gunman:

Last week, The Guardian published a long list of instances of journalists in Ukraine being intimidated by pro-Russian separatists and anti-Russian Ukrainian groups alike, compiled by Reporters Without Borders. Aleksei Matsuka, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian regional news website Novosti Donbassa, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that there are no independent Ukrainian journalists left in the city of Donetsk. "They have fled the region since pro-Russia separatists started targeting and kidnapping reporters," Matsuka said.

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