Reuters bureau chief dies a sudden death | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Reuters bureau chief dies a sudden death

Pakistan Press Foundation

By: Ikram Junaidi and Munawer Azeem

ISLAMABAD: Reuters’ bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan Maria Golovnina, 34, died in the news agency’s Islamabad office on Monday in mysterious circumstances.

A Reuters’ statement said she fell unconscious in her office and was rushed to a private hospital. But “medical teams were unable to save” the Russian national journalist.

However, the capital police, quoting her colleagues, said that alarmed at her long disappearance from her seat, the colleagues went looking for her and found her lying in a washroom of the office.

Police came to know about the tragedy after her colleagues took the body to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to put the body in the hospital’s mortuary.

“Pims Medical Legal Officer Dr Nasreen Butt was called immediately after the body arrived and told that she has to do a postmortem,” a Pims doctor told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

Police officials also reached the hospital in the meantime.

“A representative of the Russian embassy and some colleagues of the journalist also arrived. They wanted to take the body away without postmortem but were told that it cannot be handed over without the permission of the district administration,” the doctor said.

A wait for the permission then began as the embassy sought the assent of Maria’s parents in Russia for the postmortem.

After sunset, Pims spokesperson Dr Ayesha Esani told Dawn that hospital management was ready to conduct postmortem but the Russian embassy said it has been trying to get assent of Maria’s parents.

“So we informed the embassy that it should complete the documentation and the postmortem will be carried out Tuesday morning,” she said.

“The body will remain in Pims mortuary and will not be released unless permitted by the district administration.”

Police sources said the body could not be released without postmortem since Maria’s colleagues had talked about vomit covering the floor of the washroom where they found her.

“Doctors who examined the body said it seemed a natural death. It could be, but it could also be food poisoning or some other poison. So autopsy should be done to establish the cause of her death,” a senior police officer said.

No wound or any other mark was found on Maria’s body, Dr Esani told Dawn, adding: “However it cannot be said whether the deceased was poisoned. So, during the postmortem samples of urine, blood and gastric secretions would be collected.”

Maria’s colleagues said she had a foot injury and rejoined office on Monday after recuperating at home in Islamabad from surgery for three months. All this time she worked from home.

“We are saddened to announce that Maria Golovnina, Reuters Bureau Chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, passed away on Monday,” said the international news agency in a statement.

“Maria fell unconscious in the Islamabad bureau. An ambulance arrived quickly and she was rushed to Kulsum International Hospital, but medical teams were unable to save her.

“Maria was a superb journalist with a long and varied career at Reuters. A fluent Japanese and Russian speaker, she joined Reuters in Tokyo in 2001 and subsequently worked in postings around the world including London, Singapore, Moscow, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“In 2013, Maria became Bureau Chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and led her team through an impressive run of exclusives and insights. Her talents, energy and can-do spirit will be sorely missed.”