Two journalists working for the Daily Beast were shot in Ukraine on Saturday while reporting on Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of the country.
The Danish correspondents were driving near the town of Ohtyrka—which is around 60 miles outside of Kharkiv—when gunfire peppered their vehicle and left both bleeding heavily from bullet wounds.
They were able to keep driving the badly damaged car, which had smoke billowing from the engine, long enough to escape from the unknown shooters.
Stefan Weichert, 31, was shot in the shoulder and Emil Filtenborg, 30, suffered multiple bullet wounds even though both were wearing bulletproof conflict zone equipment. They made it to a hospital for treatment and will undergo surgery on Sunday.
“We have been extremely lucky,” Weichert told The Daily Beast.
The star freelance journalists, who live in Kyiv, have been filing dispatches from Ukraine for The Daily Beast and Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. They are experienced conflict reporters who previously traveled to the warzone in Nagorno-Karabakh for The Daily Beast.
With a flash of his trademark humor, Filtenborg was quick to update his Instagram with a photo of his bandaged leg and the caption: “Shit day at work.” On Twitter he posted, a link to Elton John’s I’m Still Standing.
Despite all their experience working for a number of international print, online and radio outlets and taking all necessary precautions, the outcome could have been so much worse.
“The car was a complete wreck, so even though Emil was hit by three bullets and I was hit by one we are extremely lucky that nothing was fatal,” Weichert said. “We were wearing bulletproof vests in the car but despite that we were extremely lucky that it didn’t hit any organs.”
Filtenborg admitted to The Daily Beast that he was relieved. “Both of us are in a stable condition, we are not in too much pain we are hopeful that this is going to end on a happy note,” he said. “We have received a lot of messages from friends and families and colleagues and staff members of places we have worked for in the past and we are very grateful for all of them. Naturally our focus is to get to safety and get back in shape.”
The reporters, who were born on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula, were hit near a town in northeastern Ukraine which is about an hour and a half away by car from the city of Kharkiv where there has been heavy fighting. Ukraine’s second city was penetrated by Russian forces on Sunday with local officials saying a gas pipeline had been struck and combat has reached the city center.
Denmark’s foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, responded to news of the reporters’ injuries on Twitter: “This is an ugly reminder of the dangers journalists in Ukraine face every day to document the horrors of the war.”