BBC crew's trek to make Kabul rendezvous

Simpson:"high point" of his career

A group made up of 12 journalists and production crew travelled for seven days carrying equipment across mountainous terrain to reach BBC world affairs correspondent John Simpson before he entered Kabul.

The team, which included radio journalist Ian Pannell and chief foreign news producer Nick Springate, journeyed with 30 mules across the 12,000ft Anji pass and a freezing river with equipment, including a satellite dish needed by Simpson and BBC correspondent Kate Clark, who were waiting to go to Kabul.

Three of the team were hurt on the journey, including Springate, who suffered snow burns and a crushed foot.

They met up with Simpson and Clark at Charikar, and found a lorry for the 30-mile drive to the Afghan capital. The trip involved crossing three frontlines, but Peter Jouvenal, a cameraman who has worked with Simpson in Afghanistan on numerous occasions, was waved through one of them when a member of the Taliban he had helped before recognised him.

Simpson and cameraman Jo Phua walked the final leg of the journey, while Pannell and  radio producer Peter Emmerson rode in on bicycles.

"It really was incredible when we went in; thousands of people came to greet us and were giving us flowers," Springate told Press Gazette. "I know John has described it as the high point of his career, and we’ve all said that. It’s really been boys’ own stuff getting here. The conditions are terrible –  there’s no food and water, and we had to carry our own supplies. We were surprised that we got here first."

By Julie Tomlin

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