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The gas tank of a police motorbike explodes during a protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
The gas tank of a police motorbike explodes during a protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.Juan Barreto—AFP/Getty Images
The gas tank of a police motorbike explodes during a protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man is engulfed in flames after the gas tank of a motorbike explodes in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man set ablaze runs during an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man set ablaze runs during an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man set ablaze runs during an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator set ablaze runs during an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator set ablaze runs during an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator set ablaze during an anti-Maduro protest reaches out in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator set ablaze during an anti-Maduro protest reaches out in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man set ablaze during an anti-Maduro protest runs to put out the flames in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A man set ablaze during an anti-Maduro protest runs to put out the flames in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator lifts the shirt off of a man who was accidentally set ablaze in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator lifts the shirt off of a man who was accidentally set ablaze in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
A demonstrator lifts the shirt off of a man who was accidentally set ablaze in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
The man falls to the ground as others rush to his aid in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
The man falls to the ground as others rush to his aid in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
The man falls to the ground as others rush to his aid in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
Men aid a demonstrator who caught fire during clashes in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
The gas tank of a police motorbike explodes during a protest in Caracas on May 3, 2017.
Juan Barreto—AFP/Getty Images
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A Man Ablaze in Venezuela

May 04, 2017

The worsening violence of street protests in Caracas was on full display Wednesday in a horrifying sequence of images showing an opposition protester accidentally set ablaze during a clash with authorities.

Footage from the incident appeared to show a group of demonstrators kicking and throwing objects at the smoldering ruins of a police motorbike before its gas tank exploded. Security forces had been working to prevent demonstrators reaching the National Assembly. Two photographers with Agence France-Presse, Juan Barreto and Ronaldo Schemidt, were nearby and captured the hellish scene as it unfolded.

The motorcycle was behind Schemidt when it exploded. "I just took the camera to catch whatever just happened and then I realized there was a man on fire running next to me," Schemidt tells TIME in an email interview. "He was wrapped in flames, running desperately to those who could help him: demonstrators and emergency medics," he adds. "I remember his screams and the screams of people around."

At one point, "he finally fell down, still on fire." Schemidt says someone threw water on the man's body to stamp out the flames while others used their hands to do so. An Associated Press picture appeared to show the man standing afterward, with a severely burned left arm, and Schemidt says the man was later taken to a hospital.

The man is aided by fellow protesters after he was burnt when demonstrators set fire to a Bolivarian National Guard motorbike as security forces block their march from reaching the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.The man is aided by fellow protesters after he was burnt during a clash. Fernando Llano—AP 

"The scene lasted just a few seconds and my reaction as a photojournalist was to document what was going on," he adds. "And I was aware that there were well trained people to help him."

Nearly three dozen people have reportedly been killed and hundreds injured in the past month as demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro have swelled. Clouds of tear gas, sticks, stones and molotov cocktails have become commonplace as authorities in riot gear square off against groups mostly comprised of young men, many of their faces hidden behind balaclavas. The latest wave is the result of an announcement by Maduro that he intends to rewrite the constitution.

On the afternoon of this incident, a surreal video circulated on Twitter—notably shared by opposition leader Henrique Capriles—showing a dancing Maduro on television before panning to a street clash between protesters and police.

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