American war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed while trying to retrieve her shoes so she could flee an army bombardment in the Syrian city of Homs, her employer The Sunday Times said.
Colvin and a group of other journalists had all followed the local custom of removing their footwear before entering a building in the besieged city which was being used as a rebel press centre, it said.
The journalists were on the ground floor of the building when the upper floors were hit by rockets, the paper said in the first full account of how the attack happened.
Although they were initially unhurt Colvin ran to the hall to get her shoes back from where she had left them.
But as she reached it a rocket landed at the front of the building, burying her and French photographer Remi Ochlik in debris and killing them both, the paper said.
Two other reporters were also injured in the blast. Colvin's family is struggling to retrieve her remains.
Colvin's mother Rosemarie told CNN on Saturday that her daughter would likely be buried in Syria, saying it had been too risky for aid workers attempting to retrieve her remains.
"We were told yesterday that today was probably the last day" for recovering the body, she told the network.
The Red Cross said Saturday it had failed to agree a deal to evacuate the journalists and wounded Syrians from Homs, as President Bashar al-Assad's forces resumed shelling the Baba Amr district of the city.
British photographer Paul Conroy, who was working with Colvin at the time, and French reporter Edith Bouvier were wounded in the attack.
Conroy's wife on Sunday urged Britain's Foreign Office to reconsider its decision not to send anyone to rescue her husband after it deemed the mission too dangerous.
"I would like it if somebody in that embassy was to say 'forget the protocol, I'm going and I'm going to get them out' - but I know that is not going to happen," Kate Conroy told BBC Radio 4.
"I have had quite a heated conversation with an MP and he has been absolutely categoric with me that that's not going to happen."
Britain summoned Syria's ambassador to London on Wednesday to demand that Syrian authorities facilitate "immediate arrangements for the repatriation of the journalists' bodies," as well as medical treatment for Conroy.