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Category: disaster

October 9, 2014 Permalink

We've moved!

Six years and 966 entries after this blog launched, it's time for some updates. We've got a new design. The pictures are bigger and you can enjoy them on your phones and tablets.

Check us out at our new home on BostonGlobe.com But, don't worry! All our old entries will remain archived here on Boston.com. If you have any feedback on the changes, please let us know.

— The Big Picture team

September 22, 2014 Permalink

Syrian Kurdish refugees flooding into Turkey

At least 130,000 refugees have poured into Turkey over the past three days, escaping an Islamic State offensive in Syria. On Friday, Turkey reopened its border but forces fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of Kurdish protesters who accuse Ankara of favoring Islamic State against the Kurds. --Thea Breite (20 photos total)

Syrian refugees gather at the border in Suruc, Turkey, late Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP)
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September 15, 2014 Permalink

Deadly flooding in India and Pakistan

Hundreds of people have died from the worst flooding in years in India and Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people are left homeless, with some still stranded in submerged homes. Most people in Kashmir's largest city Srinagar were affected by this disaster. Risk of disease is now a major concern due the stagnant water that still fills the area as emergency workers continue the relief efforts. --Leanne Burden Seidel (33 photos total)

Kashmiri residents struggle to withstand sudden and strong water currents while wading through floodwaters in their efforts to move to safer places in Srinagar, India on Sept. 4. The flooding began earlier this month in Kashmir, where it has caused landslides and submerged much of the main city of Srinagar, on the Indian-administered side. (Dar Yasin/Associated Press)
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August 22, 2014 Permalink

Deadly landslides hit Japan

Dozens of people, including children, were killed in Japan when destructive landslides hit Hiroshima. Triggered by torrential rains, the landslide buried people alive as they slept in their homes. The search for survivors in the mud-ravaged hillside continues as over 50 people are feared missing. --Leanne Burden Seidel (26 photos total)

This aerial view shows the damage caused by a landslide after heavy rains hit the city of Hiroshima, western Japan, on August 20. At least 39 people were killed and another many were still missing after a huge landslide engulfed homes in western Japan. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
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July 23, 2014 Permalink

Typhoon Rammasun

Rammasun hit China late last week with winds up to 130 miles per hour -- the strongest typhoon to hit the country in four decades. The storm was blamed for killing more than 150 people as it did major damage to the Philippines and Vietnam. Another storm named Matmo came ashore in southeastern China today after passing across Taiwan overnight. --Lloyd Young (33 photos total)

A man pushes his electric bicycle against strong wind and heavy rainfalls along a flooded seaside street as Typhoon Rammasun hits Haikou, Hainan province on July 18. A super typhoon slammed into China on Friday as the government ordered an all-out effort to prevent loss of life from a storm that has already killed at least 64 people in the Philippines. Rammasun made landfall at Wenchang city on south China's island province of Hainan on Friday afternoon. (Reuters)
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July 18, 2014 Permalink

Malaysian jet crashes in Ukraine

Four months after the tragic disappearance of a Malaysian jet in the Indian Ocean, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 aboard. According to Ukrainian and US officials, the plane was shot down by a Russian-made antiaircraft missile. Along with coping with this devastating loss, tensions increased in the region setting off even more concerns internationally. --Leanne Burden Seidel (28 photos total)

People inspect the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17. A passenger plane carrying 298 people was shot down as it flew over the country, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the plane. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press)
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May 21, 2014 Permalink

Balkans flooding

The recent severe flooding in the Balkans will reportedly cost Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia billions of dollars to recover. The flooding is the worst to hit the region in more than a century, killing more than three dozen people and forcing countless numbers of others from their homes. --Lloyd Young (27 photos total)

Fata Kovacevic reacts near her flood-damaged house in Topcic Polje, Bosnia on May 20. At least 40 people have died in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, after days of the heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago caused rivers to burst their banks and triggered hundreds of landslides. Dado Ruvic/Reuters
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May 5, 2014 Permalink

Afghanistan landslide: Rescuers give up hope of survivors

2,100 people are thought to be buried by the landslides that hit a remote area in northern Afghanistan. Officials say the site has become a mass grave for the village of Abi Barak. After the landslide struck on Friday, residents from a nearby village rushed to the scene to help dig people out and the second landslide struck, killing many of the rescuers. Rescue efforts on now focused on the displaced survivors. --Thea Breite (18 photos total)

An aerial view shows the site of Friday's landslide that buried Abi Barak village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, May 5, 2014. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
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April 28, 2014 Permalink

Tornadoes kill at least 18

Tornadoes ripped through the south-central United States Monday morning. Arkansas was the hardest hit, with at least 16 people dead. The storm system produced the first fatalities of this year's U.S. tornado season. According to weather.com, severe storms and tornadoes will continue into midweek. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

A row of lightly damages houses, top, face destroyed homes in a Vilonia, Ark., neighborhood Monday, April 28, 2014 after a tornado struck the town late Sunday, killing at least 16 people. (Danny Johnston/AP)
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April 21, 2014 Permalink

The Boston Marathon, 2014

An American runner, Meb Keflezighi, won The Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983. A year after the bombs exploded near the finish line killing three people and injuring hundreds of others, runners reclaimed the race. A record crowd of one million people, twice the usual number, watched and cheered the runners on. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya defended her title in the women’s race. --Thea Breite (29 photos total)

The scene at the Hopkinton start of the 118th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 21, 2014. (Bill Greene//The Boston Globe)
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April 15, 2014 Permalink

Boston Marathon bombings: One year later

On a windy and rainy day in Boston, the city marked a year since the attack at the Marathon. Two homemade bombs killed three and injured more than 250 people near the finish line last year. Symbolic events took place today culminating with a flag-raising ceremony and moment of silence. --Lloyd Young (20 photos total)

Meaghan Melly, center, was not able to finish the Boston Marathon last year due to the bombings, she plans to run and finish it next week with her father. (Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe)
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April 7, 2014 Permalink

The Rwandan Genocide: 20 years later

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, where at least 800,000 people - mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus - died at the hands of Hutu extremists. As survivors of the genocide recounted their memories of the killings and of survival, several people were overcome with grief, screaming and crying uncontrollably with medical staff helping to carry them out and to provide counseling. Official mourning, which began three months ago with a flame of remembrance touring towns and villages across the nation, culminated Monday with the arrival of the torch at the national genocide memorial. --Thea Breite (16 photos total)

Bizimana Emmanuel, who was born two years before the genocide, is consoled by an unidentified woman while attending the public ceremony at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, Rwanda, Monday, April 7, 2014. (Ben Curtis/AP)
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April 3, 2014 Permalink

Earthquake off the coast of Chile

A powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Chile coast late April 1 that caused a small tsunami. Six people died and over 900,00 residents were evacuated along the coast. Strong aftershocks shook the region for the following days, including a 7.2 magnitude quake a day later. --Leanne Burden Seidel (28 photos total)

Fishermen look to salvage any remains destroyed overnight in the port of Iquique, in northern Chile, on April 2, after a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit off Chile's Pacific coast. An 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit Chile late Tuesday, killing at least six people and generating tsunami waves that might ripple as far as Indonesia. (Luis Hidalgo/AFP/Getty Images
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March 24, 2014 Permalink

Mudslide in Washington: More survivors doubtful

Friends and relatives continue to wait for news of their loved ones as the search resumed for victims of the mudslide that hit north of Seattle on Saturday, March 22. Rescuers were unable to work for two days because of the dangerous mud. Geologists in helicopters declared some areas safe to search for survivors. Over 100 people are still missing. --Thea Breite (16 photos total)

A flag flies from a small church off the highway leading to the scene of a deadly mudslide Monday morning, March 24, 2014, near Oso, Wash. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
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March 14, 2014 Permalink

Lost Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Investigators around the world are still trying solve the deepening mystery of the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The plane with 239 people on board disappeared last Saturday an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. The massive search area has now expanded to the Indian Ocean. Speculation and many unanswered questions remain as distressed families and the world wait for a definite outcome. --Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)

A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13. (Samsul Said/Reuters)
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February 14, 2014 Permalink

Flooding in Britain

Weeks of extraordinary wet weather has lead to disastrous flooding in Britain. The area has seen the most rain in almost 250 years. Homes and farms have been flooded for weeks in southwest England with worries of more rain to come. --Leanne Burden Seidel (28 photos total)

A boot floats in flood water at a flooded estate in Egham after the River Thames burst its banks in southeast England Feb. 13. ( Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
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December 23, 2013 Permalink

December around the world

A snowstorm in the Middle East, 95 degree temperatures in Buenos Aires, flooding in Gaza, ice storms in Canada. It’s a typical December around the world. Or is it? --Thea Breite (17 photos total)

Eve Grayson, a Reindeer herder of the Cairgorm Reindeer Herd, feeds the deer on December 23, 2013 in Aviemore, Scotland. Reindeer were introduced to Scotland in 1952 by Swedish Sami Reindeer herder, Mikel Utsi. Starting with just a few reindeer, the herd has now grown in numbers over the years and is currently at about 130 by controlling the breeding. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
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December 20, 2013 Permalink

2013 Year in Pictures: Part III

Our collection of the best photojournalism of 2013 concludes with a look at the months of September, October, November, and December. News as always dominated the period with Typhoon Haiyan battering the Philippines, the attack on the mall in Kenya, the funeral for Nelson Mandela, unrest in Ukraine and the conflict in Syria continuing. Here is just a glimpse of what stood out to me in the final months of the year. For the rest of the year, see part I and part II. -- Lloyd Young [Editor's note: The Big Picture will not publish during the week beginning December 23. We will return posting December 30.] ( 35 photos total )

Typhoon survivors play a game called "Sungka" inside the bathroom of a house, toppled by Super Typhoon Haiyan that battered Tacloban city nearly two weeks ago, in central Philippines on Nov. 21. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
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December 16, 2013 Permalink

2013 Year in Pictures: Part I

The first quarter of 2013 was a tough one for many people. It certainly was difficult for us here in Boston. Putting together the best photos of the year can be depressing. For the most part, the wire services move their most dramatic photos of the most significant events and many of those are violent. In this post, you will see photos from the horrific collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, the Boston Marathon bombings and you will see a few light moments sprinkled within. It’s critical for us to document these tragic moments. Because of the images of the building collapse seen around the world, Bangladesh now has a new labor law that boosts worker rights. But after this edit, I'm going to start gathering some positive images for a future post. --Thea Breite (28 photos total) See also: Part 2

Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia on Jan. 4, 2013 The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. (Holmes Family, Tim Holmes/AP)
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November 18, 2013 Permalink

Tornadoes and severe weather slam the midwest

A powerful late-season wave of tornadoes, thunderstorms and damaging winds hit 12 states on Sunday. News organizations reported anywhere from dozens (The Washington Post) to over 81 (The Chicago Tribune) tornadoes that touched down in the midwest, killing at least eight people. Looking at these photographs, its hard to imagine that so many people walked away unharmed. Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 people east of Peoria was hit hardest by an EF-4 tornado with winds of up to 190 mph. --Thea Breite ( # 22 )

A tornado moves northeast two miles west of Flatville, Ill., on Nov. 17. The tornado damaged many farm buildings and homes on its way to Gifford, Ill., where scores of houses were devastated. (Jessie Starkey/Associated Press/News-Gazette)
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November 13, 2013 Permalink

Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan


Residents gather amongst the devastation in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 13 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (315 kph), slammed into the southern Philippines and left a trail of destruction in multiple provinces, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate and making travel by air and land to hard-hit provinces difficult. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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November 8, 2013 Permalink

Typhoon Haiyan

A massive typhoon, reported as one of the strongest storms on record this year, came ashore in the central Philippines today. The storm packed sustained winds of 147 miles per hour and forced more than 700,000 people from their homes, killing at least four. -- Lloyd Young ( 19 photos )

A Filipino resident stands on a roof of a home with a backdrop of a cloudy financial district in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 8. The most powerful cyclone in three decades battered the Philippines, killing at least three people and displacing over 718,000, disaster relief officials said. Typhoon Haiyan was packing maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 275 kph as it made five landfalls over the eastern and central provinces of Eastern Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Iloilo, the national weather bureau said. (Francis R. Malasig/EPA)
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October 18, 2013 Permalink

Powerful earthquake strikes the Philippines

A powerful 7.2 earthquake hit the Philippines this week, killing at least 160 and injuring hundreds. The quake was centered below the island of Bohol, toppling many buildings in the area including several historic churches.( 30 photos total)

A woman carries her baby past a destroyed church belfry in Tubigon, Bohol on Oct. 16, a day after an earthquake hit central Philippines. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
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October 7, 2013 Permalink

Broken lives of Fukushima

In 2011 a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in a meltdown that became the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years. About 160,000 people living near the plant were ordered to move out and the government established a 20-km compulsory evacuation zone. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to contain contaminated water at the site 240 km north of Tokyo. There have been multiple leaks and glitches over the last two and a half years. Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj returned to this abandoned area last month and captured these haunting images.( 25 photos total)

A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, some 6 km (4 miles) from the crippled Daiichi power plant, Sept. 22. Namie's more than 20,000 former residents can visit their homes once a month with special permissions but are not allowed to stay overnight inside the exclusion zone. A total of 160,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around Daiichi plant after the government announced the evacuation following the nuclear disaster in March 2011. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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September 27, 2013 Permalink

Earthquake in remote Pakistan

Survivors of an earthquake that struck rural Pakistan earlier this week are still waiting for aid, an effort being hampered because militants in the region have been attacking government troops as they try to deliver relief supplies. The quake, which measured 7.7 in magnitude, has claimed more than 350 lives, injured more than 750, and damaged dozens of homes. Most of the victims were crushed when the walls of their mud brick houses caved in. Residents said the quake hit during the few hours of the day when the village had electricity, so many children were at home watching television. -- Lloyd Young ( 22 photos )

A Pakistani girl walks on the rubble of a house destroyed following an earthquake in Labach, the remote district of Awaran in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, on Sept. 26. Two days after the tremor struck, rescuers were still struggling to help survivors. The death toll from the quake reached in the hundreds on Thursday, with more than 500 people injured. (Shakil Adil/Associated Press)
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September 18, 2013 Permalink

Colorado floods

The effort continued today to locate more than 500 people still missing from last week's damaging floods in Colorado. The death toll stood at 6, which state officials said is expected to rise from the heavy rains that washed out roads, collapsed bridges, destroyed homes, and left a massive clean-up in their wake. -- Lloyd Young ( 37 photos )

Homeowner Chris Ringdahl, left, is comforted by family friend Katherine MacIntosh, right, in front of her possessions as they cleanup from the floodwaters in Longmont, Colo., on Sept. 16. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state inundating entire neighborhoods and destroying bridges and roads. (Chris Schneider/Associated Press)
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July 26, 2013 Permalink

Train crash in Spain

On Wednesday a high-speed train crashed and derailed in Santiago de Compostela, killing at least 78 people in Spain's worst train crash since 1972. The speed of the train is being questioned and the veteran driver was arrested. The train was full of passengers traveling to attend a prominent festival, which was subsequently canceled due to the tragedy.-Leanne Burden Seidel (19 photos total)

A fireman carries a wounded victim from the wreckage of a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, July 24. A train derailed outside the ancient northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday evening, killing at least 78 people and injuring up to 131 in one of Europe's worst rail disasters. (Monica Ferreiros/La Voz de Galicia via Reuters)
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July 24, 2013 Permalink

Earthquake in Gansu province, China

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Dingxi in China's Gansu province on Monday, killing at least 94 people and injuring as many as 1,000. Efforts have been under way to help and search for the victims in the area, home to about 2.7 million people. Most of the deaths and damage occurred in the southern, rural region making it difficult for rescue efforts.- Leanne Burden Seidel (29 photos total)

Family members consoled a woman who lost her daughter in a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Minxian county, Dingxi, Gansu province July 22.(Reuters/China Daily)
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June 17, 2013 Permalink

The start of the Monsoon season

Monsoon season in southern Asia has begun, and in India the rains arrived ahead of schedule, easing drought concerns. Monsoon rains can be disruptive and even deadly, but crucial for the farmers whose crops feed millions of people. Though concerns for flooding are prevalent, the arrival of the rains brings colorful celebrations and relief from the heat every year. -Leanne Burden Seidel (32 photos total)

An Indian buffalo herder holding a traditional handmade umbrella stands in a field to keep watch of his buffaloes as monsoon clouds hover above in Bhubaneswar, India, on June 13, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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June 5, 2013 Permalink

Flooding in Europe (updated)

The Danube River reached its highest level in 500 years. The Elbe, Rhine, and other rivers and tributaries are cresting high as well as swathes of central Europe lie inundated by floodwaters that have killed 12 and displaced tens of thousands. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic have been severely affected, as Hungary prepares for the swell of water. Gathered here are images of the flooding and people affected in the last several days. -- Lane Turner (49 photos total)

The river Rhine floods Mainz, Germany on June 2, 2013 (picture taken with an underwater camera). (Fredrik Von Erichsen/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 8, 2013 Permalink

Wildfires in California

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. yesterday declared this week as "Wildfire Awareness Week" in recognition of last week's devastating fires northwest of Los Angeles. His proclamation noted, "In an average year, wildfires burn 900,000 acres of California's timber and grasslands." Rains that moved into the area on Monday helped extinguish the fires that started last Thursday along US Route 101 near Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks, endangering some 4,000 homes. -- Lloyd Young ( 31 photos total)

A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs Fire continues to grow on May 3 near Camarillo, Calif. The wildfire has spread to more than 18,000 acres on day two and is 20 percent contained. (David Mcnew/Getty Images)
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May 1, 2013 Permalink

Hurricane Sandy: 6 months later

Damage left behind by Hurricane Sandy's landfall last October can still be seen along the US East Coast, especially the hard hit beachfront areas in New Jersey, as many communities work to move forward. Dubbed "The Superstorm" and reaching 1,000 miles wide at times, Sandy caused some $50 billion in damage and killed 159 people. ( 27 photos total)

Ken Flynn of Ship Bottom does some carpentry work for a home that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach, N.J., on April 30. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to Long Beach Island for a town hall meeting, six months after the island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. (Chris Pedota/The Record of Bergen County via Associated Press)
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April 26, 2013 Permalink

304 Dead in Building Collapse, Bangladesh

The search for survivors continues in one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history. Fifty survivors were found today; the death toll stands at 304. Terrified workers notified the police, government officials and a powerful garment industry group about cracks in the walls, discovered just days before the collapse. The owner of the eight-story Rana Plaza assured 3,000 workers that the structure was safe and they returned to their jobs. The death toll nears 300 with more workers trapped under the massive concrete and wire. A small collection of the hundreds of images made over the last three days, follows. -- Paula Nelson ( 30 photos total)

A Bangladeshi woman weeps holding a picture of her missing husband as she waits at the site of a building that collapsed April 24, in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 26, 2013. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
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April 24, 2013 Permalink

China earthquake: Sichuan province 2013

A powerful earthquake hit the Sichuan province of China near Ya'an city over the weekend reportedly killing some 200 people. Thousands of rescue workers have been deployed to help feed, treat, and house the displaced residents and help clear roads blocked by landslides in the remote area. The quake comes just short of five years after a massive quake in the same region killed some 70,000 people. -- Lloyd Young ( 46 photos total)

A woman whose relatives were killed in Saturday's earthquake cries while sitting on a pile of rubble in Lingguan township in Baoxing county of southwest China's Sichuan province on April 22. The earthquake in Sichuan province killed some 200 people, injured more than 11,000 and left nearly two dozen missing, mostly in the rural communities around Ya'an city, along the same fault line where a devastating quake to the north killed more than 70,000 people in Sichuan and neighboring areas five years ago in one of China's worst natural disasters. (Associated Press)
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April 15, 2013 Permalink

Terror at the Boston Marathon

With thousands of runners still on the course at the Boston Marathon, two explosions rocked Boylston Street just yards from the finish line. The blasts ripped through crowded spectator viewing stands. The death toll as we publish stands at three and is expected to rise, with over 140 others injured and transported to local hospitals. No arrests have been made. Please follow Boston.com for further updates. (WARNING: Some images are graphic.) (20 photos total)

The scene at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon when one of the two bombs exploded. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
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February 15, 2013 Permalink

2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

For over 55 years, the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism who represent various aspects of the profession and the composition of the jury is changed from year to year. The prize-winning images are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries over the course of a year and over two million people go to a hundred different venues to see the images. The winners themselves uphold the foundation's simple mission statement: We exist to inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism. A sampling of the winning images follows. You can browse more amazing content on World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: There will be no post on Monday in observance of the holiday.) ( 18 photos total)

World Press Photo of the Year 2012 - Paul Hansen/Sweeden/Dagens Nyheter - Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
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January 30, 2013 Permalink

Brazil nightclub fire

Families started burying their dead and protesters marched through the streets in the wake of the devastating Kiss nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people in Santa Maria, Brazil, last weekend. A band's pyrotechnics show, which police said used flares meant for outdoors, has been blamed for setting the windowless building ablaze trapping many clubgoers inside as they fled through a single, overcrowded exit. -- Lloyd Young (28 photos total)

A woman cries during a protest against the deaths from the fire at the Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, Brazil, on Jan. 29. The fire killed more than 230 people in Santa Maria early on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits in the ensuing panic, officials said. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)
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December 17, 2012 Permalink

2012 Year in Pictures: Part I

Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)

Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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December 7, 2012 Permalink

The wake of Typhoon Bopha: Philippines

Typhoon Bopha, an incredibly powerful typhoon, has killed hundreds, triggered landslides and floods and left immeasurable destruction in its path in the Philippines. The death toll stands at over 500 – entire families washed away – many still missing. At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone. A muddy wasteland of collapsed houses and trees felled by ferocious winds; 300,000 left homeless in great need of water, food and shelter. – Paula Nelson ( 38 photos total)

Typhoon Bopha is shown moving toward the Philippines from the International Space Station, Dec. 2, 2012. The typhoon slammed into the Davao region of the Philippines early Dec. 4, killing hundreds and forcing more than 50,000 to flee from inundated villages. (NASA/Associated Press)
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November 2, 2012 Permalink

Hurricane Sandy: Recovery

Hurricane Sandy battered the mid-Atlantic region with powerful gusts and storm surges that cause epic flooding in the coastal communities of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving more than eight million people – including large parts of Manhattan – in the rain-soaked dark. The mammoth storm packed maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Those powerful winds, driving rain and storm surge are blamed for 98 deaths in the United States (although numbers still vary), including two small boys who were swept out of their mother’s arms. The toll of the storm is staggering, including a rampaging fire that reduced more than 100 houses to ash in Breezy Point, Queens. New Jersey took the brunt, officials estimating that the state suffered many billions of dollars in property damage. Residents began the long, slow process of recovery. – Paula Nelson ( 46 photos total)

An American flag is raised among the wreckage homes devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, Oct. 31, 2012. The U.S. Northeast began an arduous journey back to normal after historic storm Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 64 people with a massive storm surge that caused epic flooding. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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October 31, 2012 Permalink

Hurricane Sandy: The Superstorm

After cutting a destructive path through the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage along the East Coast this week. Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey and brought with it major flooding, travel disruption, structural damage, and power outages. New York City was especially hard hit. The storm system was so large ­-- nearly 1,000 miles wide at times -- it brought blizzard conditions to West Virginia and 20 foot waves to Lake Michigan. It is projected Sandy will have caused about $30 billion in damages in the United States. To date, the storm claimed more than 100 lives. -- Lloyd Young ( 57 photos total)

Flooded homes in Tuckerton, N.J., on Oct. 30 after Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the southern New Jersey coastline on Oct. 29. (US Coast Guard via AFP/Getty Images)
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August 17, 2012 Permalink

Cleanup begins after massive flooding in Manila

Relentless rains submerged at least a third to one half of the sprawling Philippine capital of Manila, triggering a landslide that killed nine people and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue tens of thousands of residents. The deluge, the worst to hit Manila since 2009 (when hundreds died in rampaging flash floods), was set off by the seasonal monsoon that overflowed major dams and rivers in the city and surrounding provinces. Residents were under waist- or neck-deep waters at one point. Clean up has begun, but remains a huge task for the area. At least 60 have died, most from drowning. -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Regie Pacheco shovels mud outside his home that was partially swept away in flash flooding in a low lying community hard hit by the flooding Aug. 12, 2012, Manila, Philippines. According to the Office of Civil Defense the floods left at least 66 people dead and affected up to 2.68 million people in Manila and surrounding provinces, with more than 440,000 fleeing to evacuation centers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
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August 13, 2012 Permalink

Iran earthquakes

Twin earthquakes hit northwest Iran near the Azerbaijan border, injuring thousands and killing over 300. Simple mud brick homes in the sparsely populated region collapsed quickly in the quakes, the larger of which measured 6.4 on the Richter Scale. Iran sits on several active fault lines and experiences earthquakes regularly. With western media hindered by restrictions in Iran, many of the images presented here are by Iranian news services, including the Iranian Students' News Agency. Images are presented as transmitted to Reuters and GettyImages. -- Lane Turner (21 photos total)

Residents and rescue workers search for the survivors in the rubble of a house near Varzaqan, after twin earthquakes hit northwestern Iran on August 11, 2012. (Farshid Tighehsaz/ISNA/AFP/GettyImages)
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August 1, 2012 Permalink

India suffers major power failures

Major power failures affected millions of people across India earlier this week and reached some 2,000 miles from the borders with Myanmar to the east and Pakistan to the west. Some 670 million people, which is 10 percent of the world's population, were affected by the largest blackout in history on Tuesday. Even as power was restored today, arguments have arisen between state and federal officials over who is to blame. -- Lloyd Young (27 photos total)

An Indian barber holding a candle, has a haircut for a customer at his shop in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity for several hours in, by far, the world's biggest blackout. (Bikas Das/Associated Press)
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July 20, 2012 Permalink

Downpour and drought

An unexpected downpour briefly drenched parts of the US this week, while most of the central and southern United States continued to experience drought conditions - expected to be the most expansive drought in a half century. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions - from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. More than 70 percent of the nine-state Midwest was in some stage of drought this week. More extreme heat and scant rains were expected in the area, suggesting the poorest crop conditions since the historic 1988 drought. The visual documentation of the breadth and depth of the current drought conditions has just begun. This is a small sampling of images, expect much more storytelling to come in the weeks ahead. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

People walk through heavy rain at Times Square in New York, July 18, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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July 2, 2012 Permalink

Wildfires in western US

The western United States continues to battle a ferocious wildfire season that has seen record-breaking fires in several states. The worst of the blazes is the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, blamed for two deaths, for forcing 35,000 residents to evacuate, and for the destruction of at lest 346 homes. The area around Colorado Springs has been declared a federal disaster area after the most destructive fire in state history. Wildfires have also destroyed property and forced evacuations in California, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. [Editors' note: There will be no Big Picture on the Wednesday, July 4 holiday.] -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)

The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood near the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 26, 2012. Colorado endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity, sapping moisture from timber and grass, creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state and punishing conditions for firefighters. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Associated Press)
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May 23, 2012 Permalink

Joplin tornado: One year later

The city of Joplin, Mo., on Tuesday marked a year since a tornado struck, killing 161 people and destroying a third of city. Many people marched during a “Day of Unity’’ through the city’s hardest hit areas. The tornado destroyed or damaged thousands of structures, including the high school and St. John's Regional Medical Center, both of which are being rebuilt. The storm is reported to have caused some $2.8 billion in damage. -- Lloyd Young (25 photos total)

Sarah Mcconnell-Pinjuv prays during a service in front of an iron cross that is all that remains of St. Mary's church after it was destroyed by the tornado one year ago on May 22, 2011 in Joplin, Mo. The EF-5 tornado devastated the leaving behind a path of destruction along with 161 deaths and hundreds of injuries, but one year later there are signs that the town is beginning to recover. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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May 11, 2012 Permalink

Food and nutrition crisis in Sahel region of Africa

A potentially catastrophic food crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa could affect as many as one million children. The food and nutrition crisis resulting from a severe drought, threatens the survival of an entire generation of children. Those children in eight countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal - are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Sparse rainfall, poor harvests and rising food prices have left many vulnerable and weak, seeking medical attention. Sahel is one of the poorest regions in the world where children already face daunting odds of survival. The current crisis makes their survival even more tenuous. Associated Press photographer, Ben Curtis, documented the conditions in the region. -- Paula Nelson (EDITORS NOTE: We will not be posting Monday, May 14) (32 photos total)

A woman carries her child amidst dusty winds in the desert near Mondo, a village in the Sahel belt of Chad, April 19, 2012. UNICEF estimates that 127,000 children under the age of 5 in Chad's Sahel belt will require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year, with an estimated 1 million expected throughout the wider Sahel region of West and Central Africa in the countries of Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Mauritania. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)
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April 6, 2012 Permalink

Titanic at 100 years

The sinking of the RMS Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,229 passengers and crew (official numbers vary slightly) in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The 712 survivors were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia. Few disasters have had such resonance and far-reaching effects on the fabric of society as the sinking of the Titanic. It affected attitudes toward social injustice, altered the way the North Atlantic passenger trade was conducted, changed the regulations for numbers of lifeboats carried aboard passenger vessels and created an International Ice Patrol (where commercial ships crossing the North Atlantic still, today, radio in their positions and ice sightings). The 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor marked a turning point for public awareness of the ocean and for the development of new areas of science and technology. April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. It has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, films, exhibits and memorials. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The British passenger liner RMS Titanic leaves from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage, April 10, 1912. Titanic called at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading westward toward New York. Four days into the crossing, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m., 375 miles south of Newfoundland. Just before 2:20 am Titanic broke up and sank bow-first with over a thousand people still on board. Those in the water died within minutes from hypothermia caused by immersion in the freezing ocean.(Frank O. Braynard Collection)
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March 12, 2012 Permalink

Japan remembers, rebuilds one year after tsunami

Mourning the loss of almost 20,000 people gripped Japan yesterday on the anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. While the nation has made enormous strides recovering from the triple disaster, yesterday was was a time for remembrance. But the country is rebuilding even as it still suffers the loss of lives and the economic effects of an estimated $210 billion price tag - the costliest natural disaster in human history. Gathered here are images from memorial services, the rebuilding efforts, and of people forging ahead with altered lives a year on from the catastrophe. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)

Families release a paper lantern in memory of the victims of last year's earthquake and tsunami, on March 11, 2012 in Natori, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images)
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March 9, 2012 Permalink

Japan's nuclear evacuees

Photographer Phyllis B. Dooney is documenting the plight of Japan's evacuees who fled the nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She writes,"In Fukushima Prefecture, the third and most permanent disaster in the series followed; a nuclear meltdown occurred at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Radiation poured into the atmosphere and environment. First it was a suggestion, but by mid-April the government was enforcing the mandate that the residents of Tomioka and Kawauchi, who hadn’t already left because of the earthquake and/or tsunami damage, leave indefinitely.  Nearly one year later an estimated 80,000 nuclear refugees are living in government-issued temporary housing or elsewhere. In the temporary housing, often just outside the evacuation zone, it is the elderly and mentally or physically disabled who comprise a large percentage of the residents." Collected here are images of those evacuees made by Dooney in August of last year and in the last few days. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Masayoshi Katakura stands on the steps of his temporary housing in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, August 16, 2011. Masayoshi, like many others, is frightened and displaced by the earthquake and tsunami but his destitution and hopelessness are a result of the nuclear disaster. (© Phyllis B. Dooney)
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March 7, 2012 Permalink

Japan tsunami pictures: before and after

In this first of three Big Picture posts on the anniversary of the Japan earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster, we have a series of paired "then and now" pictures, with the first image taken recently paired with a picture from the same vantage point taken during or in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. CLICK ON IMAGES 2 THROUGH 27 TO SEE THE SAME AREA ONE YEAR AGO. This effect requires javascript to be enabled. Outside of Japan's nuclear exclusion zone the country has made a remarkable cleanup of the areas ravaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. But a quasi-normality reigns, with some formerly devastated areas now orderly, yet not as they were before the tragedy, while other areas bear heavy signs of damage. Several photographers recently painstakingly recreated scenes photographed during the original events. AFP's Toru Yamanaka said the task was very difficult, with many of the visual clues wiped away. Yamanaka said he had to ask local residents where they thought the original photos were taken. In Ishinomaki, he walked into the city hall and showed people a photograph of a piece of land with many stones scattered on it. "All the city officials from one section came out and tried to help me. They stared at the picture all together but still couldn't figure it out. One young woman, also working at the city hall, then shouted: 'I got it!' She pointed out a tiny building in the background that was under construction, and said, 'I know the building.'" The last three images, as well as the first image here, are of Yuko Sugimoto and her son, Raito. Photographed wrapped in a blanket looking for her son, the moment became an iconic image of the disaster. Thankfully, their story has a happy ending, as the pair were safely reunited. -- Lane Turner (56 photos total)

This combination photograph shows Yuko Sugimoto wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture on March 13, 2011 and the same housewife standing with her five-year-old son Raito at the same place on January 27, 2012. March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming more than 19,000 lives. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP) (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 1, 2012 Permalink

Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest and South

Weather predictions for possible tornadoes from a new storm system today threaten the Midwest and South, and have recent victims nervous about what the day might hold. The first powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South earlier this week, killing 13 people from Kansas to Kentucky, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly (and early) tornado season. Tornadoes and powerful winds tore off roofs, leveled homes and businesses, tossed mobile homes, downed power lines and injured more than 150 people. The damage was most significant in Harrisburg, a small town in southern Illinois where blocks of houses and businesses were reduced to rubble. -- Paula Nelson(25 photos total)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in ruins, March 1, 2012, in Ridgway, Ill. A pre-dawn twister flattened entire blocks of homes as violent storms ravaged the Midwest and South. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)
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February 27, 2012 Permalink

Gerd Ludwig's 'Long Shadow of Chernobyl' project

Internationally-renowned photojournalist Gerd Ludwig has spent years documenting the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 1986, errors at the plant in Ukraine led to an explosion that ultimately caused over a quarter of a million people to permanently evacuate their homes to escape the radiation and radioactive fallout. Over the course of several trips to the site and the region for National Geographic Magazine in 1993, 2005, and 2011, Ludwig has amassed a documentary record of a people and a place irreparably altered by a tragic accident. His 2011 trip was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Now Ludwig has released an iPad app with over 150 photographs, video, and interactive panoramas. Gathered here is a small selection of the work Ludwig has produced over the years of the still-unfolding tragedy. -- Lane Turner (23 photos total)

On April 26, 1986, operators in this control room of reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant committed a fatal series of errors during a safety test, triggering a reactor meltdown that resulted in the world's largest nuclear accident to date. Today, the control room sits abandoned and deadly radioactive. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, 2005 (Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE)
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February 10, 2012 Permalink

2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners

By the numbers: 5, 247 Photographers, 124 Nationalities, 101, 254 pictures. Three hundred and fifty images by 57 photographers of 24 nationalities were awarded prizes in nine categories. To view the entire collection of winning images from the 55th World Press Photo Contest: 2012 World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (16 photos total)

2012 World Press Photo of the Year: A woman holds a wounded relative during protests against President Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 15, 2011. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
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January 18, 2012 Permalink

Costa Concordia cruise ship runs aground off coast of Italy

The search continued for those still missing after the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship smashed into a reef off the coast of Giglio, Italy, and partially sank last weekend. Eleven deaths were confirmed on Tuesday. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter by prosecutors after he left the ship before all passengers were evacuated. -- Lloyd Young (34 photos total)

A rescuer being lowered on the cruise liner Costa Concordia on Jan. 18 that ran aground in front of the harbor of the Isola del Giglio (Giglio island) after hitting underwater rocks on January 13. Emergency workers fear that the ship could slip from its resting place on a rocky shelf and slip into deeper waters. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 11, 2012 Permalink

Haiti slow to recover from 2010 quake

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed about 300,000 people. President Michel Martelly in a report from earlier this week said that 800,000 Haitians are living without electricity, 500,000 can’t read or write, and 8 out 10 live on less than $2 a day. Though half of the rubble has been cleared and reconstruction has begun, Haiti has a long way to go in its recovery effort. Collected here are images made available by wire services leading up to the anniversary. -- Lloyd Young Please see Earthquake in Haiti for the initial post after the quake. (25 photos total)

A Haitian man sells used shoes in Port-au-Prince amidst earthquake damage on Jan. 9, 2012. According to the UN some 50 percent of the rubble left by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake still litters the Haitian capital. (Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 28, 2011 Permalink

Japan's nuclear exclusion zone

What does a sudden evacuation look like? After everyone is gone, what happens to the places they've abandoned? National Geographic Magazine sent Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder to the nuclear exclusion zone around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant to find out. Evacuated shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear radiation crisis, the area has been largely untouched, with food rotting on store shelves and children's backpacks waiting in classrooms. The area may face the same fate as the town of Pripyat, Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. This isn't the first time Guttenfelder has gotten a rare glimpse of a place few see, as The Big Picture featured his photographs of North Korea in an earlier post. Collected here are Guttenfelder's haunting images just released of a place abandoned, and of people dealing with the loss. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)

In this April 7, 2011 photo, local police wearing white suits to protect them from radiation, search for bodies along a river inside Odaka, Japan. Weeks after authorities had searched for victims and started recovery in other tsunami-hit regions, cleanup crews hadn't yet been dispatched around the crippled reactors because of high radiation levels. (AP Photographer David Guttenfelder on assignment for National Geographic Magazine)
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December 23, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part III

In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)

A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 21, 2011 Permalink

The year in Pictures: Part II

The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)

A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )
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October 31, 2011 Permalink

Thailand flood reaches Bangkok

Flood waters inundating Thailand north of Bangkok since July have made the journey south and reached the capital. The disaster is responsible for 400 deaths in Thailand and neighboring Cambodia and Vietnam. Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter, but the floods have wiped out over a quarter of the country's crop. The government has declared a five-day holiday for the capital to allow residents time to evacuate. Damages could top six billion dollars in Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years. Collected here are images of the water as it moves south to Bangkok, and how residents there are dealing with the disaster. -- Lane Turner (43 photos total)

A woman holds a toddler as she walks through floodwaters in an area near the Chao Praya river in Bangkok on October 29, 2011. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)
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October 26, 2011 Permalink

The Turkey earthquake

The effort to save any remaining earthquake victims continues around the clock in the eastern province of Van in Turkey after an earthquake reduced many of its buildings to rubble on Sunday, Oct. 23. A two-week old baby girl, her mother and grandmother were rescued in Ercis on Tuesday, but most teams are finding only bodies among the ruins. The 7.2 magnitude quake has reportedly killed at least 450 people as of Tuesday night and damaged more than 2,000 structures. Survivors live on the streets and in tents provided by the government. -- Lloyd Young (28 photos total)

About 46 hours after an earthquake decimated the Turkish town of Ercis, rescue workers cradle 14-day old Azra Karaduma after pulling her from a collapsed apartment building. “Given the work conditions and hardships of rescue teams, the best prize is to bring people back to life,” Ercan Toprak, leader of the rescue team that saved the girl, told NTV. “We feel the joy of connecting her back to life and hope her mother and grandmother will also be saved very shortly.” Her mother and grandmother had taken shelter with the baby behind a couch in their damaged apartment. After hearing their cries for help, rescuers drilled a hole into their wall. (Reuters)
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September 28, 2011 Permalink

Too much of a basic human need

Water is essential to life but in such places as India, Pakistan, China, and Thailand deluges have once again caused misery. Typhoon Nesat hit the Philippines earlier this week on its way to south China. In Pakistan, more than 5 million people have been affected by recent flooding, according to the aid agency Oxfam. Pakistan is still struggling to recover from the devastating monsoon rains in 2010. -- Lloyd Young(36 photos total)

A village boy sits on the banks of the swelling Daya River, near Pipli village, about 25 kilometers from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneshwar Sept. 9. The flood situation in Orissa state worsened with the release of more water downstream from Hirakud dam, according to a news agency. A high alert has been sounded in 11 districts of the state. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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September 12, 2011 Permalink

Ground Zero: September 11, 2001 - September 11, 2011

One of the most indelible memories in the collective psyche of Americans - and the world - comes from the images of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks on the United States, September 11, 2001. Yesterday, Americans and the world collectively remembered those who lost their lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania ten years after that unforgettable day. This post (edited by Leanne Burden) shows the transformation, of what became known as Ground Zero, over the last ten years. A memorial rises from the ashes of that day on September 11, 2011. -- Paula Nelson (41 photos total)

Photos by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite showing the World Trade Center complex in Manhattan, New York, collected on June 30, 2001 showing the 110-stories twin towers; on September 15, 2001 showing the remains of the 1,350-foot (411.48-meter) twin towers of the World Trade Center, and the debris and dust that have settled in Ground Zero, four days after the terrorist attacks; and June 8, 2002, showing the progress in the reclamation of Ground Zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. AFP/Space Imaging
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September 9, 2011 Permalink

Texas drought and wildfires

Wildfires have blazed across Texas for several days, but the drought conditions that fed the flames have been building for many months. The ten-month period through July was the driest in Texas state history. Entire lakes have dried up. Since last November, almost 1,500 homes have burned in nearly 21,000 fires across the state. Two deaths so far have been attributed to the fires, which have forced the evacuations of thousands of residents. The Texas drought and wildfires come on the heels of the Arizona wildfire, the largest in that state's history. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)

Two firefighters break from battling a wildfire off Foster School Road near Needville, Texas on September 7, 2011. (Patric Schneider/The Courier/AP)
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August 29, 2011 Permalink

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene wound up by most estimates as one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. While ultimately not as powerful as many had predicted, the storm still killed at least 27 people along its path from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard. Transportation was shut down all along the east coast, stranding residents and tourists in shelters, airports, and train stations. More than 5.8 million customers lost electricity, thousands of flights were cancelled, flooding washed out roads and destroyed homes, and evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands. Gathered here are pictures from the Hurricane's path. -- Lane Turner (44 photos total)

Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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August 12, 2011 Permalink

Dadaab refugee camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)
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August 5, 2011 Permalink

Pakistan: Devastating flood, one year later.

Devastating floods, driven by unprecedented monsoon rains, began late in July 2010, leaving one-fifth of Pakistan submerged. The rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan directly affected 20 million people mostly by destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure. It left 2,000 people dead and 11 million homeless. In this post, we revisit some of those affected as the monsoon season approaches the region again. The last five images by Reuters photographer Adrees Latif (click on the image to fade the photograph) show us his subjects almost one year later, as he brought them back to the place where he photographed them during the 2010 flooding. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

A female refugee passes a kettle of tea to her husband in preparation to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a camp for flood victims in Nowshera, northwest Pakistan on Aug. 2. The couple were forced from their home by floods last year that killed about 2,000 people and left 11 million homeless. (Fayaz Aziz/Reuters)
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August 1, 2011 Permalink

South Korean deluge

After a month of heavy rain saturated mountainsides, a fresh deluge sent landslides sweeping into Seoul last week, killing 59 people. Ten were still reported missing. In a strange compounding of the misery, the landslides and flash flooding washed away landmines buried near an air defense unit in Seoul. Soldiers were searching for those landmines as well as North Korean landmines washed away near the border. A total of 76 landslides of different severity struck after the most intense rainstorm in Korea in the last century. Ten university students lost their lives while volunteering at a summer camp for kids when a landslide struck in Chuncheon. "If it keeps raining like this, no country in the world can endure this," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Soldiers remove mud from a landslide-damaged apartment building in Seoul July 28, 2011. (Truth Leem/Reuters)
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July 29, 2011 Permalink

Horn of Africa: on the brink of a humanitarian crisis

One of the worst droughts in a century, compounded by high food prices and unremitting political strife, is spawning an immense humanitarian crisis on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homeland each week; most of those who survive the brutal journey end up in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya. Aid agencies are calling it the worst drought in 60 years. Although centered on Somalia, which lacks a functioning government and suffers from constant battles with Islamic rebels, the crisis has also affected people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Reports suggest parts of Somalia may already be on the verge of famine, a repeat of the emergency situation two decades ago. Resources are woefully inadequate. "Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict," World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release. – Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp. With drought conditions in the Horn of Africa combined with poor food distribution. The Kenyan camp is expected to house 450,000 refugees by the end of the year, according to Doctors Without Borders. The camp was built to accommodate 90,000. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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June 15, 2011 Permalink

Japan: three months after the quake

Japan continues to deal with the enormous task of cleaning up and moving forward three months after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast. Local authorities are still dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and now the rainy season, which could increase the risk of disease as workers clear away the debris, is approaching. Collected here are images from this past weekend marking the three-month point, as well then-and-now images of the destruction shot by Kyodo News via the Associated Press. -- Lloyd Young (29 photos total)

Vehicles drive through the tsunami-hit area, three months and two days after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on June 13, 2011 in Natori, Miyagi, Japan. Japanese government has been struggling to deal in the aftermath of the disaster and the problems affecting the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Authorities are preparing for an increased risk of viral and infectious disease as delays in the clearing the debris combine with the arrival of Japan's humid, rainy season. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
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June 9, 2011 Permalink

Arizona wildfire rages on

A vast wildfire, measuring half the size of the state of Rhode Island and described as the second worst fire in Arizona history, continues to surge across eastern Arizona. The fire has jumped past firefighter's containment lines to reach the edges of residential areas, prompting more evacuation orders. Winds carrying burning embers continue to ignite smaller fires, causing new concerns about the prospect of extinguishing the 13-day-old fire. The Wallow Fire has destroyed approximately 337,000 acres and threatens main electrical lines that supply power as far away as west Texas. Thousands have evacuated. Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Smoke from the Wallow Fire covers highway 60 in Springerville, Arizona. Several mountain communities have emptied in advance of the fire, and a utility that supplies power to customers in southern New Mexico and west Texas issued warnings of possible power interruptions due to the fire's spread, June 9, 2011. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
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May 25, 2011 Permalink

Severe weather continues in central US

Deadly storms struck again yesterday in the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It was a storm system that followed the massive, highest-rated EF5 twister that struck Joplin, Mo., on Sunday. The Joplin twister, which killed more than 120 people, is the eighth deadliest storm on record in the United States dating back to 1840. This year's tornado season has produced approximately 1,000 twisters and has taken the lives of more than 300 people. -- Lloyd Young (36 photos total)

Debbie Surlin salvages items from her parent's home in Joplin, Mo. Wednesday, May 25, 2011. The home's residents Beverly and Roy Winans rode out the EF-5 tornado by hiding under a bed in the home. The tornado tore through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 123 people. (Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)
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May 24, 2011 Permalink

Another Icelandic eruption: Grimsvotn volcano

Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland on May 21, 2011 has caused hundreds of travel delays. The ash cloud forced U.S. President Barack Obama to shorten a visit to Ireland and has raised some fears of a repeat of last year's huge travel disruptions across Europe when emissions from Eyjafjalljokull stranded millions of passengers. Although this disruption is said to be stronger than that of Eyiafjalljokull, it is not expected to have the same impact. Take a look back at two Big Picture posts from the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption: Iceland's disruptive volcano and More from Eyiafjallajokull. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

A plane flies past a smoke plume resulting from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, May 21, 2011. Airlines began canceling flights to Britain because of the ash cloud from the volcano reaching its airspace, although experts expected no repeat of travel chaos from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull a year ago. (Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters)
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May 23, 2011 Permalink

Deadly tornadoes strike again

A deadly spring continued in the American South and Midwest as more tornadoes cut swaths of destruction through Missouri and Minnesota. The death toll in Joplin, Mo. was near 100 and expected to rise. As much as 30 percent of the town was damaged. In Minneapolis, a tornado killed one resident as it caused heavy damage and led to school closures and a curfew. The death toll from 2011 tornadoes stands now at 455, the deadliest year for tornados since 1953. -- Lane Turner (24 photos total)

Residents begin digging through the rubble of their home after it was destroyed by a tornado that hit Joplin, Mo. May 22. The tornado tore a path a mile wide and four miles long destroying homes and businesses. (Mike Gullett/AP)
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April 28, 2011 Permalink

Tornadoes kill over 200

Over 200 are dead after over a hundred separate tornadoes left a trail of destruction across five states in the American South. The nation appears headed for a record number of tornadoes this year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been mobilized to deal with the aftermath. Tornado watches were issued for the entire East Coast as the storm system that caused the destruction yesterday moved to new ground. -- Lane Turner (23 photos total)

Faye Hyde sits on a mattress in what was her yard as she comforts her granddaughter Sierra Goldsmith, 2, in Concord, Ala. April 27. Their home was destroyed. A wave of tornado-spawning storms strafed the South on Wednesday, splintering buildings across hard-hit Alabama and killing nearly 200 people in four states. At least 58 people died in Alabama alone. (Jeff Roberts/The Birmingham News/AP)
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April 25, 2011 Permalink

Chernobyl disaster 25th anniversary

On April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in what is now Ukraine exploded. The largest civil nuclear disaster in history led to mass evacuations, and long-term health, agricultural, and economic distress. The nearby city of Pripyat has been abandoned, and a 19-mile radius "exclusion zone" established where radiation contamination makes continued habitation dangerous. Collected here are archival pictures of the catastrophe, as well as more recent images of the area. In addition, two photographers who've made extensive studies of the aftermath have been gracious enough to share their work with us here. Diana Markosian documented the lives of pensioners Lida and Mikhail Masanovitz, who continue to live in the abandoned ghost town of Redkovka, Ukraine. Her work is found here in photographs 13 through 16. Michael Forster Rothbart has produced one of the most extensive records available of life near Chernobyl. His work is found here in photographs 23 through 29. Links to the websites of both photographers can be found below. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)

Graffiti adorns a wall April 4 in the ghost city of Pripyat near the fourth nuclear reactor (background) at the former Chernobyl Nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 13, 2011 Permalink

Japan's crisis: one month later

Japan is just in the beginning of the long term recovery effort from the earthquake that struck off northeastern Japan on March 11. The crisis alert level from the damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has now been raised to the highest level of impact, the same as the Chernobyl Russia incident 25 years ago. Searchers continue to look for the dead, displaced Japanese live in shelters, protests continue over use of nuclear power, Japan's economic engine may be disrupted, the massive cleanup of debris is just underway, aftershocks are feared and many continue to mourn those who were lost. The photos collected here are from one month to the day of the quake and beyond. -- Lloyd Young (36 photos total)

Buddhist monks, Japan Self-Defense Force personnel, firefighters, and other relief workers observed a moment of silence on "Hiyori Yama," or Weather Hill, in Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on April 11, 2011, exactly one month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. Local fishermen used to climb the manmade hump and decide whether it was safe to fish. (Koichi Nakamura,Yomiuri Shimbun/Associated Press)
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March 18, 2011 Permalink

Japan: One week later

A week after a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami leveled large swaths of northeastern Japan, effects of the disaster are still rippling across the country and the world. Misery of the victims continues unabated, as shelter, food, water, and fuel have become dear. A nuclear facility crisis has both troops and workers scrambling to keep the situation from getting worse, while foreign governments are urging their citizens to evacuate. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Momoko Onodera prays at an evacuation center as she talks about her husband who died in the tsunami on March 18 in Kesennuma, Japan. A potential humanitarian crisis looms as nearly half a million people who have been displaced by the disaster continue to suffer a shortage of food and fuel as freezing weather conditions set in. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
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March 17, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Hopes fade for finding more survivors

As officials desperately tried to prevent disaster at a damaged nuclear facility, hopes faded for finding survivors amid the rubble as snow and cold blanketed the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan. Residents were allowed back into damaged areas for the first time since the disaster to inspect what might be left of their homes. And flights out of Japan were full as foreign nationals and others left the country. The Big Picture continues special daily coverage of the disaster through tomorrow, with later updates anticipated as events merit. -- Lane Turner (27 photos total)

Sixty-six-year-old Yoshikatsu Hiratsuka cries in front of his collapsed house with his son still missing, possibly buried in the rubble, at Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture on March 17. The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast is approaching 15,000, police said. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 16, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Continuing crisis

As if conditions for survivors and emergency workers weren't bad enough after the massive earthquake and tsunami, snow fell today in chilly Northern Japan. The dire situation prompted the first-ever televised address to the nation from Emperor Akihito, who made no such speech even after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. As aid and personnel poured into Japan, the nuclear crisis prompted neighboring countries to step up inspections of Japanese foods, and prompted governments worldwide to study their own nuclear energy policies. Meanwhile the grim work of recovery continued. -- Lane Turner (28 photos total)

Vehicle headlamps illuminate the disaster area of Yamada town in Iwate prefecture on March 16. The official toll of the dead and missing following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has topped 11,000, with 3,676 confirmed dead. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 15, 2011 Permalink

Japan: New fears as the tragedy deepens

Continued aftershocks and new earthquakes bring new fears to the survivors of the tragedy. Residents prepare for radiation leaks as the Prime Minister asks everyone to remain indoors - in their homes, their offices and shelters. Ninety one countries have offered help to Japan. Search and rescue and recovery continue in the devastated landscape. The death toll rises, but some hope is realized in the reunions of family and friends. -- Paula Nelson (52 photos total)

Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)
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March 14, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Vast devastation

The vast devastation wrought by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, may only be matched by the destroyed lives left in their wake. Few survivors have been found, but families continue to search for their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and friends. Threats of a nuclear reactor meltdown and resulting disaster loom. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Associated Press/Kyodo News)
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March 12, 2011 Permalink

Japan: earthquake aftermath

Japan raced to avert a nuclear meltdown today by flooding a nuclear reactor with seawater after Friday's massive earthquake left more than 600 people dead and thousands more missing. Towns in the country's northeast coast were literally wiped away by an ensuing tsunami, leaving countless people seeking shelter in the aftermath of the quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and was the country's strongest recorded quake. -- Lloyd Young 44 photos total)

A resident is rescued from debris in Natori, Miyagi, northern Japan March 12 after one of the country's strongest earthquakes ever recorded hit its eastern coast March 11. (Asahi Shimbun, Noboru Tomura/Associated Press)
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March 11, 2011 Permalink

Massive earthquake hits Japan

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the east coast of Japan early today. The quake -- one of the largest in recorded history -- triggered a 23-foot tsunami that battered Japan's coast, killing hundreds and sweeping away cars, homes, buildings, and boats. Editors note: we'll post more as the story develops -- Lloyd Young (47 photos total)

Houses swallowed by tsunami waves burn in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)
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February 23, 2011 Permalink

Christchurch earthquake

With hundreds still missing, and 75 already confirmed dead, rescuers struggled to find survivors on the second night after a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city Tuesday. Buildings crumbled into the streets after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which geologists consider an aftershock to a 7.1 earthquake that caused no casualties in September. Tuesday’s temblor was more devastating and deadly because it was centered only six miles from the city's center and hit during the middle of a workday. The Government has declared a national state of emergency. Officials estimated there could be 100 people trapped in the CTV building alone. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck in the early afternoon Tuesday in Christchurch, prompting New Zealanders to flee into the streets as others rushed to the collapsed buildings in attempts to rescue those trapped in the rubble. (Iain McGregor/Christchurch Press/Reuters)
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February 11, 2011 Permalink

World Press Photo: winners

On the morning of February 11, 2011, the international jury of the 54th World Press Photo Contest named a photo by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, World Press Photo of the Year 2010. The image is a portrait of Bibi Aisha, disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house, taken in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over 5,691 photographers entered 108,059 images in the 2011 World Press Photo Contest and after the two-week judging period, 56 were named winners in nine categories. It is a prestigious contest and an honor to be named a winner. The following post shares 23 of those winning images. For more on the contest, including a time-lapse video of the jury room being set up, to hear the jury chairs discuss the images that were named winners, and to learn more about the competition, World Press Photo -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, fled back to her family home from her husband's house, complaining of violent treatment. The Taliban arrived one night, demanding Bibi be handed over to face justice. After a Taliban commander pronounced his verdict, Bibi's brother-in-law held her down and her husband sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Bibi was abandoned, but later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. After time in a women's refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery. Bibi Aisha now lives in the United States. World Press Photo of the Year 2010, Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine.
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January 28, 2011 Permalink

Challenger disaster: remembered

On January 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m., EST, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch. Today, on the 25th anniversary of this national tragedy, we honor in memory the brave crew who gave their lives for the exploration of space. Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire social studies teacher, was NASA's choice for the first teacher in space. Because McAuliffe was our local astronaut, she is featured heavily in this post, but we honor all seven on the anniversary of a nation's great loss. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger. From left: Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik. (NASA/1986)
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January 21, 2011 Permalink

Landslides in Brazil

Last week, a series of flash floods and mudslides struck the Serrana mountain region near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, destroying buildings roads and more. Nearly 14,000 people are now homeless, 759 are reported to have been killed and another 400 remain missing in this, Brazil's worst-ever natural disaster. As soldiers make their way to remote towns with aid and transportation, Brazil's government has said it would accelerate efforts to build up a nationwide disaster-prevention and early-warning system. Collected here are photos from the mountainous regions near Rio that were so hard-hit by these landslides. [Editor's note: Just a note to say thank you on this, my last day as editor of the Big Picture. Though I am moving on, this blog will continue to run here on boston.com, edited by the Globe photo department. It's been an amazing journey. -Alan] (41 photos total)

A destroyed church stands surrounded by debris and floodwaters after a landslide in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Thursday Jan. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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January 12, 2011 Permalink

Haiti, one year later

It's been one year since the earth shook so violently below Port-au-Prince, Haiti, destroying and damaging hundreds of thousands of buildings and lives in mere moments. Twelve months of struggle and heartache have followed, with very little progress to show so far. Only five percent of the rubble has been cleared as crippling "indecision" has stalled reconstruction efforts, a recent report by humanitarian group Oxfam said. It's not clear when Haiti will be fully rebuilt, with five years needed just to rehouse the government, a top minister recently told an AFP reporter. On this somber anniversary, here are some photos of (and by) Haitians as they continue to cope with the aftermath of such a massive disaster. (45 photos total)

Orich Florestal (left), 24 and Rosemond Altidon, 22, stand on the edge of their partially destroyed apartment of Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 people and destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. (REUTERS/Allison Shelley)
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January 3, 2011 Permalink

Australian flooding

Seasonal flooding across eastern Australia has been widespread and devastating this spring - their wettest on record. Cyclone Tasha came along two weeks ago, and dumped even more water on Queensland. Hundreds of thousands of people in an area the size of France and Germany combined are now affected, and at least nine people have been killed so far. Authorities are working to evacuate some communities and airlift supplies to others as the water level is expected to continue rising over the next two days and 38 regions were declared natural disaster areas. Collected here are photos from the recent flooding around Australia and its effect on residents and animals. (33 photos total)

A wallaby stands on a large round hay bale, trapped by rising flood waters outside the town of Dalby in Queensland, Australia on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Days of torrential downpours have left parts of central and southern Queensland state inundated, flooding thousands of homes and businesses, cutting off roads and forcing the entire populations of two towns to evacuate. (AP Photo/Anthony Skerman)
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December 6, 2010 Permalink

Wildfire in Israel

Late yesterday, December 5th, Israeli authorities said that they had finally gained control of a raging four-day wildfire in the Carmel Forest near the city of Haifa, Israel. The fire was the worst in Israel's history, consuming about 10,000 acres of forest and about four million trees. Israeli responders were helped by an international fleet of more than 30 firefighting aircraft and ground personnel from more than 16 countries. At least 42 people were killed and more than 17,000 residents evacuated. Two suspects have now been arrested and stand accused of negligently setting the blaze. Collected here are images from the recent wildfires around Haifa, and those caught up in the disaster. (35 photos total)

Ultra orthodox Jewish men watch as smoke from a wildfire rises into the sky on December 2, 2010 in Haifa, Israel. A large forest fire in northern Israel has reportedly killed at least 42 people. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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November 22, 2010 Permalink

Shanghai apartment fire

One week ago, on November 15th, in Shanghai, China, a fire erupted, apparently within construction materials and scaffolding surrounding an occupied 30-story apartment building under renovation. The flames quickly spread to the building itself and soon engulfed the entire structure. Workers and residents scattered down scaffolding, or climbed to the roof, attempting to escape the smoke and flames. Unfortunately, 58 people were unable to escape, losing their lives, and 70 more were injured in the blaze, which was contained within four hours. A number of individuals are now in custody, including some unlicensed welders. The Shanghai government has also taken responsibility for the fire and lax safety oversight, and China has just ordered a nationwide overhaul of fire-control measures. Yesterday was the seventh day after the fire, an important day in China's traditional mourning process. (32 photos total)

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building in Shanghai, China on November 15, 2010. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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November 8, 2010 Permalink

Mount Merapi's eruptions

Since its initial eruptions on October 25th, Indonesia's Mount Merapi continues to spew hot gases and ash as far as 5,000 meters into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on surrounding villages and farms, and disrupting air travel - and more than 140 people have been killed by the eruptions over the past two weeks. Hundreds of thousands of residents have been displaced, many of them living in temporary shelters until the Indonesian government reduces the existing 20 km "safe zone", and allows them and their livestock to return. Collected here are recent images from the area near the unpredictable Mount Merapi as it still rumbles and erupts. (39 photos total)

A farmer stands in a rice field as volcanic material from Mount Merapi erupts, in Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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November 3, 2010 Permalink

Haiti, ten months later

It has now been nearly ten months since the devastating January earthquake struck Haiti, reducing Port-au-Prince to rubble and claiming over 300,000 lives. In the time since, Haiti's government, the United Nations, and many other aid agencies have struggled just to keep the population healthy and fed as it tries get back on its feet. Recent weeks have seen an outbreak of cholera, which has killed more than 300 people. The cholera strain is not native to Haiti, and reportedly matches strains found in South Asia, placing suspicion on U.N. personnel from that area who were stationed nearby. Some 1.3 million people are still crammed into thousands of makeshift camps dotted around the capital, leaving them vulnerable to both disease outbreaks and the elements - of particular concern as Tropical Storm Tomas now approaches, and may grow to Hurricane strength by landfall on Friday. (42 photos total)

A rooster stands on the roof of an abandoned aircraft in a camp set up for Jan. 12 earthquake victims on an abandoned air strip in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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October 27, 2010 Permalink

Dual disasters in Indonesia

Indonesia was rocked by two separate disasters earlier this week - a 7.7-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami on Monday that swept onto the Mentawai Island chain in western Indonesia, and less than 24 hours later and a few hundred miles away, Mount Merapi erupted multiple times, unleashing searing pyroclastic flows that destroyed villages and blanketed the countryside in ash. Rescue personnel are only now reaching some of the more remote areas, but as of this writing, it is estimated that nearly 300 people were killed by the tsunami, and at least 30 died near Mount Merapi. Collected here are early photos from the dual disasters, and the rescue and recovery efforts just underway. (37 photos total)

A man wears a face mask as ash from the erupting Mount Merapi volcano blankets a street, at Kaliurang village in Sleman, on October 26, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Thousands have been ordered to evacuate as Mount Merapi, which last erupted in 2006, began to emit plumes of smoke and clouds of ash. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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October 6, 2010 Permalink

A flood of toxic sludge

On Monday, October 4th, a large reservoir filled with toxic red sludge in western Hungary ruptured, releasing approximately 700,000 cubic meters (185 million gallons) of stinking caustic mud, which killed many animals, at least four people, and injured over 120 - many with chemical burns. The 12-foot-high flood of sludge inundated several towns, sweeping cars off the road as it flowed into the nearby Marcal River. Emergency workers rushed to pour 1,000 tons of plaster into the Marcal River in an attempt to bind the sludge and keep it from flowing on to the Danube some 45 miles away. The red sludge in the reservoir is a byproduct of refining bauxite into alumina, which took place at an alumina plant run by the Hungarian Alumina Production and Trading Company. A criminal probe has just been opened by Hungarian authorities. (30 photos total)

A Hungarian soldier wearing chemical protection gear walks through a street flooded by toxic sludge in the town of Devecser, Hungary on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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September 13, 2010 Permalink

9/11 in 2010, Remembrance and Rebuilding

Last Saturday, September 11th, people all over the United States and the world took time to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania nine years ago. Progress on the rebuilding of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is now becoming more evident as One World Trade Center topped 36 stories recently, on its way to 1,776 feet by 2012. The building, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is now growing at a rate of one floor per week, after years of political, security and financing issues plagued the $11 billion multi-building project. A push is underway in both New York and Pennsylvania to complete memorial projects before next year's 10th anniversary. Collected here are photos from this weekend's memorials and of the rebuilding progress so far. (42 photos total)

Two-year-old Luke Pavlenishzili, riding on the shoulders of his father George Pavlenishzili, offers a rose to New York firefighter Joe Huber, who was standing at the reflecting pool at ground zero during a memorial service commemorating the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Chang W. Lee)
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September 8, 2010 Permalink

Trapped in a Chilean mine

Over a month ago, on August 5, 2010, the roof of the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed, trapping 33 miners inside, 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground near Copiapo, Chile. The fate of the miners was not immediately known - it took 17 days before a drill reached their refuge, discovering them alive and well. Rescue work began immediately, but even with several concurrent plans underway, the quickest likely rescue will still take two to three months. Until then, the 33 men will have to endure high temperatures and humidity in isolated conditions. A video link has been established, many relatives have set up camp nearby, and food, air, messages and supplies are delivered by several narrow boreholes. Fluorescent lights with timers are to be sent down to attempt to keep the men on a normal schedule by imitating day and night as they care for each other and assist in their own rescue. Once it reaches them, the diameter of the rescue borehole will be very narrow. so each miner will have to ensure they have a waistline of no more than 90 cm (35 in) to escape. (42 photos total)

Relatives wait outside a collapsed mine where about 33 miners are trapped in Copiapo, Chile, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
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September 6, 2010 Permalink

Pakistan in need

The devastating floods that have rolled through Pakistan for over a month now have left a disaster of massive scale in their wake. For a time, an area the size of England was submerged - one fifth of all the land in Pakistan. Although immediate loss of life remains relatively low (near 2,000 according to reports), damages from loss exceed $43 billion, almost one quarter of Pakistan's GDP. As the waters recede Nearly 9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) of existing crops are gone, 1.2 million livestock and 6 million poultry killed, and 17 million of Pakistan's 167 million people affected. It can be difficult to imagine individual stories of need when presented with such huge numbers, to see oneself in another's shoes when their overall predicament seems so vast and dire. Hopefully this collection of photographs from just the past week in Pakistan can help convey some of the stories behind the numbers. One way you can help is by texting "SWAT" to 50555 from your mobile phone to give $10 to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) - more ways to help linked below entry. (43 photos total)

Internally displaced Pakistani women wait for relief goods in Larkana on September 3, 2010. Relief efforts in flood-ravaged Pakistan are being stretched by the "unprecedented scale" of the disaster, while funding has almost stalled, the UN said on September 2. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 13, 2010 Permalink

Landslides strike Zhouqu County, China

At midnight on Sunday, August 8th, a temporary lake caused by a recent landslide broke loose above the town of Zhouqu, in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, China. The outflow slid down the valley as a wall of mud, wiping out houses and muli-story buildings, and killing at least 1,144 residents - with over 600 still reported as missing. More than 10,000 soldiers and rescuers arrived soon to comb through the mountains of mud that buried several parts of Zhouqu County. Engineers also worked to blast the debris that had passed through the town to partially block the Bailong River, causing further flooding. Collected here are images of the landslide-affected area of northwestern China, part of a series of disasters in Asia caused by recent heavy rains. (41 photos total)

The landslide-hit town of Zhouqu in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, China on August 9, 2010. Chinese rescuers armed with little more than shovels and hoes hunted for survivors of a huge mudslide, as relatives of the missing trekked into the disaster zone to look for their loved ones. (REUTERS/Aly Song)
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August 11, 2010 Permalink

Continuing Pakistani floods

The United Nations has now estimated that Pakistan will need billions of dollars to recover from its worst floods in 80 years - further straining a country already dependent on foreign aid to prop up its economy and back its war against Islamist militants. Over 60,000 troops are involved in flood relief operations trying to assist nearly 14 million people who are now affected by the flooding. The U.N. has just launched an appeal for $459 million in immediate aid, as Pakistanis have become more frustrated with their government's response and President Asif Ali Zardari's trip to Europe. [This entry is part II of a double-issue today, part I about Russia here] Collected here are recent photographs of Pakistanis as they continue to cope with their flooded country. [See previous entry]. (36 photos total)

A man marooned by flood waters, alongside his livestock, waves towards an Army helicopter for relief handouts in the Rajanpur district of Pakistan's Punjab province on August 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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August 11, 2010 Permalink

Continuing Russian wildfires

Though many have been contained, wildfires continue to rage throughout many parts of Russia. In a new twist to the situation, officials have confirmed that some forests that were contaminated with radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster have now burned, but it was unclear what danger the smoke from such wildfires could pose. Monitoring stations have not registered any increase in radioactivity as yet. Recent windy conditions have temporarily cleared the smoke from Moscow's skies, but it could possibly return soon. The area of burning forests in Russia is now 927 sq km (358 sq mi), down from from 1,740 sq km (676 sq m) only 24 hours ago. The economic costs of the fires are now estimated at up to 15 billion dollars. [This entry is part I of a double-issue today, part II about Pakistan is here]. Collected here are recent photographs from the Russian wildfires. [See previous entry]. (36 photos total)

Light shines through forest fire smoke near a Russian Orthodox church 30km from Moscow in Zelenaya Sloboda late on August 3, 2010. (ARTYOM KOROTAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 6, 2010 Permalink

Severe flooding in Pakistan

It is only the start of the monsoon season, but already Pakistan is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has seen in over 80 years. Entire villages have been washed away, an early estimate of over 1,600 deaths so far and over 2 million displaced or otherwise affected. Not only is the immediate water damage causing havoc, the floods have inundated crop-producing areas, dealing a crippling blow to the agricultural-based economy and threatening a food crisis. The Pakistani government now struggles to rescue and provide aid to millions - while still fighting with militant Islamist forces in many of the hardest-hit regions. With even more heavy rains predicted in the coming days, here are a handful of recent photographs of Pakistanis as they cope with this latest disaster. (41 photos total)

A boy hangs on to the front of a cargo truck while passing through a flooded road in Risalpur, located in Nowshera District in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province July 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
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August 2, 2010 Permalink

Russian wildfires

Last month, Russia endured the hottest July ever recorded since records began 130 years ago. The intense heat and drought affecting central Russia has been drying out trees and peat marshes, which have been catching fire recently, burning forests, fields and houses across a massive region. Some 500 new fires have been reported in the last 24 hours alone, and a mobilization of hundreds of thousands of emergency workers is underway to combat them. President Dmitry Medvedev has now declared a state of emergency in seven regions. To date, over 1,500 homes have been destroyed and 40 lives have been lost. as wildfires continue across over 300,000 acres. (38 photos total)

A soldier walks past birches, which are charred, damaged by fire on the outskirts of the Russian city of Voronezh on July 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
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July 21, 2010 Permalink

Oil spill in Dalian, China

Five days ago, in the northeastern port city of Dalian, China, two oil pipelines exploded, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air and burning for over 15 hours, destroying several structures - the cause of the explosion is under investigation. The damaged pipes released thousands of gallons of oil, which flowed into the nearby harbor and the Yellow Sea. The total amount of oil spilled is still not clear, though China Central Television earlier reported an estimate of 1,500 tons (400,000 gallons), as compared to the estimated 94 - 184 million gallons in the BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast. The oil slick has now grown to at least 430 square kilometers (165 sq mi), forcing beaches and port facilities to close while government workers and local fishermen work to contain and clean up the spill. (29 photos total)

Firefighters walk near an oil pipeline blast site in Dalian, Liaoning province, China early on July 17, 2010. Firefighters later extinguished the fire that raged for more than 15 hours after two oil pipelines exploded in the port of Dalian, the Xinhua news agency said. (REUTERS/China Daily)
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June 21, 2010 Permalink

Oil in the Gulf, two months later

62 days have passed since the initial explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the crude oil and natural gas continue to gush from the seafloor. Re-revised estimates now place the flow rate at up to 60,000 barrels a day - a figure just shy of a worst-case estimate of 100,000 barrels a day made by BP in an internal document recently released by a congressional panel. Louisiana's state treasurer has estimated environmental and economic damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could range from $40 billion to $100 billion. Collected here are recent photographs from the Gulf of Mexico, and of those affected by the continued flow of oil and gas into the ocean. (37 photos total)

The Q4000 drilling rig operates in the Gulf of Mexico at the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster Wednesday, June 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
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June 16, 2010 Permalink

European flooding

Over the past month, heavy rainfall from different storms across parts of Europe has caused massive amounts of flooding - some water moving slowly across river plains and farmland, some moving swiftly through cities and villages. Dozens have lost their lives, many thousands evacuated their homes, some repeatedly - Poland in particular is suffering its worst flooding in decades. More recently, parts of Spain and France have experienced flash floods that have carried away people and vehicles. Collected here are some images of the flooding in Europe from the past several weeks. (42 photos total)

Local inhabitants are evacuated from a flooded village of Sokolniki in Southern Poland, May 20, 2010. Flash floods caused by days of heavy rainfall hit parts of central Europe, disrupting power supplies and forcing thousands of people from their homes. Southern Poland, parts of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and northern Hungary were among the worst affected regions. (REUTERS/Krzysztof Koch/Agencja Gazeta)
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June 11, 2010 Permalink

Scenes from the Gulf of Mexico

Based on recently revised estimates, BP's ruptured oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico continues to leak 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day. The new figures suggest that an amount of oil equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could still be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days. Despite apparent efforts to restrict journalists from accessing affected areas, stories, video and photographs continue to emerge. Collected here are recent photographs of oil-affected wildlife, people and shorelines around the Gulf of Mexico on this, the 51st day after the initial explosion. (41 photos total)

Oil covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 9, 2010. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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June 4, 2010 Permalink

Landslide lake in Pakistan

Five months ago, on January 4th, 2010 in the remote Hunza River Valley of northern Pakistan, a massive landslide buried the village of Attabad, destroying 26 homes, killing 20 people, and damming up the Hunza River. As the newly-formed lake grew, authorities rushed to evacuate and supply those affected in the landslide area and upstream. The lake is now over 300 feet deep and 16km (10 mi) long, submerging miles of highway, farms and homes. Earlier this week, the lake reached the top of the natural dam, and began to spill out - rapid erosion of the landslide debris has authorities worried about a potential breach, and locals have been evacuated as officials monitor the developing situation. Special thanks to the Pamir Times for sharing their photos and coverage of this event. (38 photos total)

This photograph was taken while a secondary landslide was taking place near Attabad village in northern Pakistan on January 22, 2010, after the original massive landslide of January 4th blocked most of the Hunza Valley and dammed the Hunza River. Original here. (Inayat Ali (Shimshal)/Pamir Times / CC BY-NC-ND)
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June 3, 2010 Permalink

Caught in the oil

A short entry - AP Photographer Charlie Riedel just filed the following images of seabirds caught in the oil slick on a beach on Louisiana's East Grand Terre Island. As BP engineers continue their efforts to cap the underwater flow of oil, landfall is becoming more frequent, and the effects more evident. (8 photos total)

A bird is mired in oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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June 2, 2010 Permalink

A rough week for Guatemala

In just the past seven days, residents of Guatemala and parts of neighboring Honduras and El Salvador have had to cope with a volcanic eruption and ash fall, a powerful tropical storm, the resulting floods and landslides, and a frightening sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed up a small building and an intersection. Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on May 27th, blanketing Guatemala City with ash, closing the airport, and killing one television reporter who was near the eruption. Two days later, as Guatemalans worked to clear the ash, Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall bringing heavy rains that washed away bridges, filled some villages with mud, and somehow triggered the giant sinkhole - the exact cause is still being studied. (34 photos total)

A woman stands in mud left by a landslide caused by Tropical Storm Agatha in the el Pedregal neighborhood of Amatitlan May 31, 2010. Stunned victims of Agatha wept by destroyed homes and rescue crews dug bodies out of mud in Guatemala on Monday after torrential rain killed at least 179 people across Central America. (REUTERS/Daniel LeClair)
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May 24, 2010 Permalink

Oil reaches Louisiana shores

Over one month after the initial explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, crude oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil slicks have slowly reached as far as 12 miles into Louisiana's marshes. According to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, more than 65 miles of Louisiana's shoreline has now been oiled. BP said it will be at least Wednesday before they will try using heavy mud and cement to plug the leak, a maneuver called a "top kill" that represents their best hope of stopping the oil after several failed attempts. Based on low estimates, at least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf so far - though some scientists have said they believe the spill already surpasses the 11 million-gallon 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska as the worst in U.S. history. (39 photos total)

A dragonfly tries to clean itself as it is stuck to marsh grass covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Garden Island Bay on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana near Venice on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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May 18, 2010 Permalink

Mount St. Helens, 30 years ago

On May 18th, 1980, thirty years ago today, at 8:32 a.m., the ground shook beneath Mount St. Helens in Washington state as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck, setting off one of the largest landslides in recorded history - the entire north slope of the volcano slid away. As the land moved, it exposed the superheated core of the volcano setting off gigantic explosions and eruptions of steam, ash and rock debris. The blast was heard hundreds of miles away, the pressure wave flattened entire forests, the heat melted glaciers and set off destructive mudflows, and 57 people lost their lives. The erupting ash column shot up 80,000 feet into the atmosphere for over 10 hours, depositing ash across Eastern Washington and 10 other states. Collected here are photos of the volcano and its fateful 1980 eruption. [Editor's note: I lived in Eastern Washington at the time, and have strong memories of this event, the dark skies, the strangeness of it all. I can't believe it's been 30 years. -Alan] (37 photos total)

Ash billows from the crater where the summit of Mount St. Helens had been only hours earlier during a huge eruption on May 18th, 1980. (USGS/Robert Krimmel)
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May 5, 2010 Permalink

Flooding in Tennessee

Last weekend, powerful thunderstorms drenched Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, dumping over 13 inches of rain on the region in two days. Creeks, lakes and rivers swelled with the rainwater, overflowing their banks, washing away roads, and causing the deaths of at least 24 people so far. The Cumberland River, which winds through downtown Nashville, Tennessee, crested Monday at 51.9 feet, 12 feet above flood stage, spilling into the city and surrounding neighborhoods. As the waters are now receding, cleanup and recovery begins, as municipal workers begin to repair power supplies and water treatment plants, and residents return to their homes to recover what they can. (38 photos total)

The Cumberland River floods outside of its banks Tuesday on May 4, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. More than 13 inches of rain fell over two days, more than doubling the previous record of 6.68 inches and leaving as many as 18 dead in Tennessee, including nine in Nashville. (Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)
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April 30, 2010 Permalink

Oil spill approaches Louisiana coast

Late on the night of April 20th, 50 miles from the shore of Louisiana, a fire broke out aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig under lease by BP, with 126 individuals on board. After a massive explosion, all but 11 of the crew managed to escape as the rig was consumed by fire, later collapsing and sinking into the Gulf. Safeguards set in place to automatically cap the oil well in case of catastrophe did not work as expected, and now an estimated 5,000 barrels (over 200,000 gallons) of crude oil is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico every day - and could possibly continue to do so for months as complicated efforts are made to stop the leak. Collected here are several recent photos of the developing situation along Louisiana's Gulf Shore - one with the potential to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in scope and damage. (32 photos total)

Two brown pelicans and a flock of seagulls rest on the shore of Ship Island as a boom line floats just offshore Thursday, April 29, 2010 in Gulfport, Miss. Several hundred yards of boom line has been set up on the north side of the island to try and contain the oncoming oil spill. Crews are placing the boom in different areas on Coast waterways to help protect against an approaching oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/The Sun Herald, William Colgin)
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April 26, 2010 Permalink

Yushu Earthquake, 12 days later

Wednesday, April 21st was a national day of mourning in China, for victims of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck remote Yushu County on April 14th, 2010 with over 2,200 confirmed dead and many thousands injured or homeless. The response on the ground has moved from search and rescue to recovery and care, hampered by geography and weather. The political response is also complex, as official Chinese coverage has emphasized solidarity in crisis despite a long-troubled relationship with the ethnic Tibetan residents. Buddhist monks who had been assisting with relief efforts were asked by Chinese authorities to halt their work last week, some monks complaining it was for political motives, officials claiming it was for safety reasons. The bodies of hundreds of victims were cremated on April 17th, necessity forcing local Tibetans to break with a tradition of leaving their dead out for vultures. (33 photos total)

A Tibetan monk gestures as other monks lay corpses for a mass cremation of earthquake victims in the town of Gyegu in Yushu County, Qinghai province, China on April 17, 2010. (REUTERS/Alfred Jin)
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April 16, 2010 Permalink

Earthquake in Yushu, China

On April 14th, residents of China's remote Yushu County, located on the Tibetan plateau, were awoken by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake. In the sparsely populated villages and the larger town of Gyegu, thousands of wood-earth buildings collapsed and many larger structured heavily damaged or destroyed. The region is difficult to reach for the response teams of the Chinese government outside aid groups - lying at an elevation of 3,700m (12,000 ft) and connected by few roads, most of which were damaged in the quake. Chinese state media now says the death toll has risen to 1,144. Rescuers continue to search for survivors as homeless residents work to recover what they can and set up shelter from the freezing overnight temperatures. (36 photos total)

A rescuer searches for survivors at a collapsed building in Yushu County, northwest China's Qinghai province, Friday, April 16 , 2010. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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March 24, 2010 Permalink

Haiti, 70 days later

In Haiti, the survivors of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck about two and a half months ago continue to struggle, with a few signs of hope as international assistance is beginning to make measurable progress, some international debt is being forgiven, and some businesses and institutions start to come back to life. In a country still mourning the loss of a now-estimated 230,000 citizens (on par with the 2004 Indian Ocean quake), over one million people remain housed in makeshift tent cities, uncertain about their future or security. According to a recent draft summary of the Haitian government's damage and needs assessment, the country will need $11.5 billion to rebuild. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs from Haiti, a country still in need. (40 photos total)

A boy watches heavy equipment clear rubble from a destroyed church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
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March 8, 2010 Permalink

Chile, nine days later

Nine days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of people in south-central Chile, relief efforts were beginning to reach those in need, rescue missions became recovery missions, and rebuilding is already under way. In the days since the February 27th quake, nearly 150 aftershocks have been recorded, including thirteen above magnitude 6.0. The government has been criticized by Chileans, who say the response was slow and inefficient. One recent government action was to grant a short amnesty to looters before sending troops out in search of stolen goods. Nearly $2 million worth of looted items were returned, often dumped on roadsides, by Sunday. Collected here are photographs from the past week in quake-affected Chile. (41 photos total)

A man walks in front of a half-sunk fishing boat and container next to Talcahuano's shore line in Chile, Saturday, March 6, 2010. (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko)
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March 2, 2010 Permalink

Chile, three days later

Three days after one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded struck the South American nation of Chile, the massive extent of the damage is becoming clearer, and the number of known victims has climbed to 723 deaths so far, many thousands still missing, and nearly 2 million displaced. World governments made immediate pledges of aid after Chilean President Michelle Bachelet requested mobile bridges, field hospitals, satellite phones, electrical generators, disaster assessment teams, water purification systems, field kitchens and restaurants, UN officials said. Collected here are recent photos from areas in Chile damaged by Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. (37 photos total)

A boat lies marooned on a street in Talcahuano, Chile, Monday, March 1, 2010. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday triggering a tsunami that hit coastal communities. (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko)
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February 27, 2010 Permalink

Earthquake in Chile

At 3:34 am local time, today, February 27th, a devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. According to Chilean authorities, over 400 people are now known to have been killed. The earthquake also triggered a Tsunami which is right now propagating across the Pacific Ocean, due to arrive in Hawaii in hours (around 11:00 am local time). The severity of the Tsunami is still not known, but alerts are being issued across the Pacific. (Entry updated four times, now 45 photos total)

Cars lie overturned after the highway they were travelling on was destroyed in an earthquake in Santiago February 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Marco Fredes)
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February 1, 2010 Permalink

Haiti three weeks later

Tomorrow will mark three weeks since the massive January 12th earthquake in Haiti, and tent cities remain full, even as some businesses and factories are beginning to reopen in Port-au-Prince. Now that massive amounts of aid have arrived, distribution problems have cropped up and are being addressed. The World Food Program has begun a new system of delivering rice to 10,000 Haitians per day at each of 16 women-only distribution points around the city - restricted to women, since young men often muscle their way to the front of distribution lines, and the women are viewed as more likely to fairly divide up the food. Aid chiefs and donor nations are warning that Haiti will need at least a decade of painstaking reconstruction. (40 photos total)

A man looks at the damage to the Iron Market after a fire ripped through it last night in Port-au-Prince on January 30, 2010. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 22, 2010 Permalink

Faces of Haiti

Ten days after the massive earthquake in Haiti, some 80,000 of the estimated 200,000 dead have been buried, two million residents now find themselves homeless, and hundreds of thousands of them are now trying to flee the capital city. Rescue crews are beginning to abandon hope of finding any further survivors in the rubble - the last person to be pulled out alive was on was rescued on Wednesday, the 20th. Aid agencies are still ramping up their efforts - the Red Cross alone has deployed what it calls its greatest deployment of emergency responders in its 91-year history. Collected here are some closer looks into recent events in Haiti, seen through the faces of the survivors and the recently-arrived security, rescue and care workers [ Also see earlier entries: 1, 2, 3]. (46 photos total)

A Haitian man washes the face of his wounded family member as he is treated at the Israeli army hospital on January 18, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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January 18, 2010 Permalink

Haiti six days later

Haiti remains a place of profound need, anguish, desperation and danger, with a few glimmers of hope and slowly growing capabilities to receive and distribute the international aid now flowing in. Sporadic looting, sometimes violent, was met with force by security oficials and ordinary citizens, resulting in a number of further deaths and injuries. The tenuous security situation has led to at least one temporary evacuation of a medical facility, to protect the care-givers. Despite the long time since the earthquake, at least five people were pulled from the rubble alive this weekend, including a young girl trapped inside a supermarket who was fortunately surrounded by food, and survived on fruit snacks. (38 photos total)

People run toward a U.S. helicopter as it makes a water drop near a country club used as a forward operating base for the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. Relief groups and officials are focused on moving aid flowing into Haiti to survivors of the powerful earthquake that hit the country on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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January 14, 2010 Permalink

Haiti 48 hours later

Two days after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck beneath Port-au-Prince, Haiti, some of the massive damage is becoming more apparent. Rescue teams are arriving, aid groups are trying their best to battle huge logistical challenges, bodies are being identified, and some medical care is being given. Rescue teams from all over the world have joined the recovery effort, as the United States pledged $100 million in relief efforts. The Red Cross ventured an estimate of up to 50,000 deaths, as bodies at the local morgues overflowed into the streets. Collected here are some more scenes from this devastated region - see yesterday's entry as well. (34 photos total)

Residents watch as heavy machinery razes a destroyed building after a major earthquake hit the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, January 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
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January 13, 2010 Permalink

Earthquake in Haiti

Tuesday afternoon, January 12th, the worst earthquake in 200 years - 7.0 in magnitude - struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks. It is still very early in the recovery effort, but millions are likely displaced, and thousands are feared dead as rescue teams from all over the world are now descending on Haiti to help where they are able. As this is a developing subject, I will be adding photos to this entry over the next few days, but at the moment, here is a collection of photos from Haiti over the past 24 hours. [See also Haiti 48 hours later]. (48 photos total)

This photo provided by Carel Pedre shows people running past rubble of a damaged building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area shook Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help. (AP Photo/Carel Pedre)
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December 29, 2009 Permalink

Five years since the Tsunami

Five years ago, on Boxing Day, December 26th, 2004, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake hit the seafloor of the Indian Ocean, causing tremendous waves of seawater to rush ashore as devastating tsunamis that left 230,000 people dead across 13 different countries - the fifth deadliest natural disaster in recorded history. Over 45,000 of the dead were never found. Five years later now, reconstruction moves apace, as multiple aid groups have built more than 140,000 homes, 1,700 schools, 3,800 houses of worship and 3,700 km of roads. On this anniversary of the catastrophe, we have collected here photographs of survivors, some rebuilding, some remembering, and seven sets of "before and after" photos (numbers 4-10, be sure to click them to see the transition effect). I'd also like to direct your attention to a fantastic multimedia presentation on this subject from Thomson/Reuters called Surviving the Tsunami. (25 photos total)

An Acehnese man cries as he attends a mass prayer for tsunami victims, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and subsequent tsunami, on December 26, 2009 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was the worst hit location, being the closest major city to the epicentre of the 9.1 magnitude quake, suffering a huge hit from the following tsunami and resulting in around 130,000 deaths. Throughout the affected region of eleven countries, 230,000 people in total were killed, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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November 30, 2009 Permalink

25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster

Twenty-five years ago this week, in the early hours of Dec. 3, 1984, large amounts of water entered a tank at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India. That water reacted with the 42 tons of methyl isocyanate inside, raising temperature and pressure so high that it began venting massive amounts of gas made up of methyl isocyanate, phosgene, hydrogen cyanide and more. The poisonous cloud swept through neighborhoods near the boundary wall, waking sleeping residents with burning throats and eyes, killing about 4,000 people in the first few hours. Over the next few years, the lingering effects increased that toll to about 15,000 dead, according to government estimates. A quarter-century later thousands of people are still grappling with the effects of the world's worst industrial accident and the continued contamination. Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemical in 2001, and Dow claims the legal case was resolved in 1989, with responsibility for continued cleanup now falling to the local state government. (28 photos total)

A policeman points to the gas tank which vented its contents into the atmosphere in 1984, at the site of the deserted Union Carbide factory on November 28, 2009 in Bhopal, India. Twenty-five years after a massive gas leak at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal killed thousands, toxic material from the 'biggest industrial disaster in history' continues to affect Bhopalis. A new generation is growing up sick, disabled and struggling for justice. The effects of the disaster on the health of generations to come, both through genetics, transferred from gas victims to their children and through the ongoing severe contamination, caused by the Union Carbide factory, has only started to develop visible forms recently. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
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November 9, 2009 Permalink

Kazakhstan's radioactive legacy

Sixty years ago, the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear weapon, nicknamed "First Lightning", at a test facility on the steppe of northeast Kazakhstan (formerly the Kazakh SSR). The test site, named the Semipalatinsk Polygon, would go on to host 456 atomic explosions over its 40-year existence. Residents in the surrounding area became unwitting guinea pigs, exposed to the aftereffects of the bombs both intentionally and unintentionally. The radiation has silently devastated three generations of people in Kazakhstan - the total number affected is thought to be more than one million - creating health problems ranging from thyroid diseases, cancer, birth defects, deformities, premature aging, and cardiovascular diseases. Life expectancy in the area is seven years less than the national average of Kazakhstan. Photographer Ed Ou has graciously shared with us these photos from the area, with thanks to the excellent Reportage by Getty Images. (25 photos total)

Nurse Larissa Soboleva holds two-year-old Adil Zhilyaev in an orphanage in Semey, Kazakhstan November 24, 2008. Adil was born blind and afflicted with Infantile Cereberal Paralysis (ICP) and hydrocephalia, as a result of his mothers exposure to radiation during years of Soviet weapons testing during the Cold War. He was abandoned by his parents, and is now cared for in an orphanage. (Ed Ou/Reportage by Getty Images)
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October 5, 2009 Permalink

2009 Sumatra earthquakes

About 5:00 pm on September 30th, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck just offshore of the town of Padang in Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake toppled buildings and started many landslides, smashing homes and swallowing up entire villages. The following day, As rescue workers arrived and residents tried their best to dig out and help the survivors, another unrelated quake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck less than 1,000 km south of the original epicenter. Each of the two quakes had at least one aftershock greater than 5.0 as well. Over 1,000 people are known to have died, an additional 3,000 still missing. Today, October 5th, officials called off the search for survivors in Padang, and are focusing now on caring for the living and coordinating with international relief agencies. (40 photos total)

A survivor squats on top of the ruins of a village hit by a landslide which occured when an earthquake hit the area of Kapalo Koto in Pariaman, West Sumatra province October 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh)
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September 30, 2009 Permalink

Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy)

About a week ago, Typhoon Ketsana (known in the Phillippines as "Ondoy") made landfall, and according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Ketsana dropped 455 mm (17.9 in) of rain on Metro Manila in a span of 24 hours on Saturday - the most in 42 years. A month's worth of rainfall in a single day washed away homes and flooded large areas, stranding thousands on rooftops in the city and elsewhere. Ketsana later crossed over to Vietnam and Cambodia, where it is still active. Over 360 people are known to have been killed, and damage estimates are reaching $100 million. Unfortunately, another tropical storm may be headed toward the southern Philippines on Wednesday but is still 1,000 km (600 mi) off the coast. Here is a selection of photographs from the affected areas over the past week. (36 photos total)

A Filipino boy is carried to safety through floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Ketsana in the Quezon City suburban of Manila on September 26, 2009. (JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 25, 2009 Permalink

Flooding in the Southeast

Heavy rains, beginning on September 19th, dumped between 15 and 20 inches of rain over three days on parts of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The deluge overwhelmed natural and man made systems, and the record-breaking downpour turned streams into rivers, swamping neighborhoods, washing out roads and, unfortunately, taking at least nine lives. Damage costs are estimated at $250 million, the cleanup just now beginning. Georgia's Republican Governor Sonny Perdue recently announced that President Obama has issued a Federal Disaster Declaration for individual assistance to aid residents of five affected counties. Collected here are a few recent photos around the area, largely centered on Atlanta, Georgia. (30 photos total)

A motorist abandons her flooded vehicle on I-85 South near Lilburn, Ga., as part of the highway becomes covered with water during rush hour on Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Curtis Compton)
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September 14, 2009 Permalink

One year after Hurricane Ike

One year after Hurricane Ike tore across the gulf coast of Texas, residents paused on Sunday to observe the anniversary of the costliest natural disaster in Texas history. Destroying or damaging many thousands of houses, including 3/4 of all homes in Galveston, Ike's 110 mph winds caused more than $29 billion in damage, and took the lives of at least 72 in the United States. In Galveston one year later, 75% of businesses have reopened, much of the debris has been cleared, and 95% of the population has returned, but much work still remains to be done as residents continue to rebuild and recover. Collected here are a series of before-and-after photographs - which (starting with the second one below) will fade between "before" and "after" when clicked. This effect requires javascript to be enabled. (13 photo pairs total)

At left, a home burns during Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas, one year ago, on Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. At right, the same scene is photographed Aug. 16, 2009. (AP photo/The Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool)
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September 11, 2009 Permalink

Remembering September 11th

Eight years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, we remember and here, take a look back, and a look at the present. This year's remembrance is emphasizing volunteerism and service, honoring the private citizens that volunteered after the attacks and encouraging the observance of the anniversary to be a day of service. Construction at Ground Zero, the site of the former twin towers, is years behind because of construction delays, design disputes and litigation involving developers, state and local officials and insurance companies. At this point, One World Trade Center (formerly the Freedom Tower), the 120-story anchor building on the site, is scheduled for a 2013 completion. (38 photos total)

David Filipov looks for a picture of his father, Al Filipov, at the Tribute WTC Visitor Center in New York City. The center is run by the September 11th Families Association as a museum and memorial to the victims and history of the World Trade Center and the 9/11/2001 attacks. Filipov's father was on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane flown into the towers. (Scott Lewis)
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September 9, 2009 Permalink

The Sayano-Shushenskaya dam accident

On August 17th, near Sayanogorsk in south central Russia, a catastrophic accident took place in the turbine and transformer rooms of the hydroelectric plant of the Sayano-Shushenskaya dam. The exact cause is still under investigation, but what is known so far is that a tremendous amount of water from the Yenisei River flooded the turbine room, causing at least one transformer explosion and extensive damage to all ten turbines, destroying at least three of them. 74 workers are known to have lost their lives in the accident, while one remains missing. Additionally, 40 tons of transformer oil were spilled into the river, killing an estimated 400 tons of trout in two fisheries. Investigators plan to release findings in two months, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for a nationwide infrastructure inspection. (32 photos total)

Rescuers work in the debris of the damaged dam of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station near the Siberian village of Cheryomushki, about 520 km (323 miles) south of Krasnoyarsk, Russia on August 20, 2009. (REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin)
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September 2, 2009 Permalink

Wildfires in Southern California

Angeles National Forest, in the hills outside of Los Angeles currently has several wildfires tearing through it, the largest of which - named the Station Fire - has so far burned over 140,000 acres, destroyed nearly 100 structures, and claimed the lives of two firefighters whose vehicle fell from a road into a steep canyon. Evacuation orders are in place for thousands in communities around the city, and residents of Los Angeles itself are contending with thick smoke and ash hanging in the air, causing air quality to drop to unhealthful levels in many parts. Currently, the Station Fire is estimated to be 22% contained, and favorable weather appears to be aiding the efforts of the firefighters. (41 photos total)

Smoke from the Station Fire rises over downtown Los Angeles Monday, Aug. 31, 2009. (AP Photo/Jon Vidar)
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August 10, 2009 Permalink

Typhoon Morakot

After forming as a tropical depression over the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km east of the Philippines on August 2nd, Typhoon Morakot built in power and moved quickly west. Over the past several days, the storm has passed over the Philippines, Taiwan and Mainland China, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage due to high winds, flooding and mudslides. Southeast China evacuated nearly 1 million people ahead of the storm, after Morakot broke many records in Taiwan, dumping a total of 2.5 meters (100 inches) of rain on the island. At least 40 people are known to have died so far, but hundreds remain missing - many from one village in Taiwan, reportedly engulfed by a mudslide during the storm. (36 photos total)

A woman watches waves triggered by Typhoon Morakot batter the shore in Wenling, Zhejiang Province August 7, 2009. (REUTERS/China Daily)
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August 3, 2009 Permalink

Fires around the Mediterranean

Over the past few weeks, high temperatures and strong winds have fueled a number of devastating fires in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Spain, France, Italy and Greece have had hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and farmland devastated, dozens of homes destroyed and at least seven people killed, including six Spanish firefighters. Many of the fires have been contained, but much work remains, aided by the recent arrival of somewhat cooler temperatures. (35 photos total)

A helicopter tries to extinguish a wildfire next to a house near Nuoro, in the centre of Sardinia, Italy on July 23, 2009. (MASSIMO LOCCI/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 8, 2009 Permalink

The L'Aquila earthquake

Early Monday morning, central Italy was struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The 2009 L'Aquila earthquake caused serious damage to several medieval hill towns in the region, killing over 260 residents, injuring over 1,000 and leaving 28,000 homeless. Despite the dangers from aftershocks, the search for survivors continues, and will be maintained until Sunday, after which the daunting tasks of cleanup and reconstruction willl begin. (32 photos total)

Shattered roofs of collapsed houses are seen against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains after an earthquake in the Italian village of Onna April 6, 2009. (REUTERS/Chris Helgren)
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March 27, 2009 Permalink

Red River flooding

The Red River is approaching record flood levels, likely to break century-old records this weekend. Flowing north toward Manitoba along the Minnesota-North Dakota border, the river is jammed up by ice and is being fed by rain, snow and meltwater. The National Weather Service has issued projections of a crest of 43 feet near Fargo, North Dakota, 24 feet above flood stage. Volunteers and national guardsmen are out in force, building levees, rescuing and evacuating those that need to get to higher ground. Cold temperatures are hampering efforts, freezing damp sandbags and making the job that much more strenuous for volunteers. 800 more National Guard troops and 150 Red Cross personnel are arriving in the area this weekend. (30 photos total)

Elsie, one of two Stensgard family dogs, sands on the earthen and sandbag dike surrounding the Stensgard home, not pictured, which overlooks a flooded outbuilding as the Red River continues to rise, Wednesday, March 25, 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Due to the flooding, the Stensgard home can only be reached by boat. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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February 9, 2009 Permalink

Bushfires in Victoria, Australia

The state of Victoria in southern Australia has recently been hit with hundreds of bush fires during a record-breaking heatwave - temperatures well above 38°C (100°F). Unfortunately, these fires have proved to be the deadliest in Australian history, with at least 166 deaths reported so far. The fires mostly appear to have been started by lightning - however a few appear to have been arson, and are under investigation - entire towns being declared crime scenes. Twenty-four fires are still burning, and authorities warn that the death toll will likely rise. (36 photos total)

A fire truck moves away from out of control flames from a bushfire in the Bunyip Sate Forest near the township of Tonimbuk, 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of Melbourne, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia, razing scores of homes, forests and farmland in the sunburned country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. (AP Photo)
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November 26, 2008 Permalink

Sichuan's earthquake, six months later

Six months ago, China suffered its worst earthquake in a generation. The magnitude 8.0 Sichuan Earthquake erased many mountain towns and villages from the face of the map, with destruction radiating outward leaving millions homeless, over 300,000 injured, nearly 70,000 dead, and over 18,000 people still listed as missing. Now, as winter approaches, reconstruction is well under way, with priority placed on building houses for survivors still living in temporary tents. China's government has pledged nearly $150 billion over three years toward the reconstruction effort - including new schools which will be built to the highest standards, after government officials admitted some blame for the shodddy construction of hundreds of schools that collapsed in last May's quake, killing up to 10,000 children. [Previously on The Big Picture: Earthquake Damage in Beichuan County, After the Quake] (32 photos total)

Li Mingcui, 61, wearing Qiang minority costumes, holds a red scarf as a sign of respect to the rescuers during the May earthquake at Beichuan County, Sichuan province November 11, 2008. Li was dug out by rescuers from the rubble of a collapsed market about 164 hours after the earthquake on May 12, 2008, local media reported. (REUTERS/Bo Bor)
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November 17, 2008 Permalink

California wildfires (yet again)

Several wildfires raged throughout Southern California this weekend, in the hills surrounding Los Angeles, burning some 35,000 acres (55 sq mi) and destroying around 1,000 homes as California's Fire Season extends toward becoming a year-round condition. Dry Santa Ana winds of up to 70 mph drove flames and embers across valleys and into neighborhoods, in some cases burning only a few homes, in others, wiping out entire communities. Most of the fires are contained now - the causes still under investigation. Fortunately, few injuries and no deaths have been reported, as some 50,000 evacuees begin returning to their homes to assess the damage. (35 photos total)

A firefighting helicopter flies through a smoke-filled sky over the Pacific Ocean at sunset as firefighters try to gain control of the Tea Fire on November 14, 2008 in Montecito, California. Thirteen people were injured and more than 100 homes destroyed in the first few hours as evening Sundowner Winds reached 70 mph, pushing the wildfire into multi-million dollar ocean-view homes last night. (David McNew/Getty Images)
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July 7, 2008 Permalink

California's Continuing Fires

Although over 1,400 fires have been contained in California this season, there still remain 330 active fires, with warmer, drier weather in the forecast. As of yesterday (7/6) there were nearly 20,000 people involved in the firefighting effort statewide, and a large swath of California had been designated a federal disaster area by President Bush. (17 photos total)

A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)
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June 23, 2008 Permalink

Ethiopia in Food Crisis Once More

Recent crop failures, drought conditions and the current high price of food have plunged Ethiopia into another food crisis, reminiscent of the famines of 1984-85 which killed over 1 million. People have become so desperate for food that they are eating seeds that were meant for their next harvest. 4.5 million Ethiopians are in need right now.

News like this feels familiar, yet distant. Words like famine and crisis describe the situation broadly, but it can be hard to personalize, to put faces to such things. Reuters photographer Radu Sigheti takes us on a brief, painful and intimate visit with the Mohamed family, as they experienced the loss of their young daughter Michu, due to malnutrition, earlier this month.
(8 photos total)


Amina Nanessa Mohamed cries outside the intensive care unit of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders after her four-year-old daughter Michu died of malnutrition near Sheshemene, southern Ethiopia, June 8, 2008. Some 4.5 million Ethiopians need emergency food aid due to failed rains and high food prices, reviving grim memories of the country's 1984-1985 famine. (REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)

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June 17, 2008 Permalink

Mississippi Floodwaters in Iowa

The rising Mississippi River has broken high-water records up and down the Iowa and Illinois shore, cresting as high as 12 feet above flood stage in some places. Estimates place the cost of the damage at over $1 billion dollars, and concerns are rising over crop damage, toxic remnants that were washed into neighborhoods, future mosquito invasions, and maintaining supplies of clean drinking water. Communities further downstream are bracing for possible flooding as well. (16 photos total)

A huge tornado funnel cloud touches down in Orchard, Iowa, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:04 p.m. The Globe Gazette and Mitchell County Press News reported that Lori Mehmen of Orchard, took the photo from outside her front door. Mehmen said the funnel cloud came near the ground and then went back up into the clouds. Besides tree and crop damage, no human injuries were reported. (AP Photo/Lori Mehmen)
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June 16, 2008 Permalink

California Fires

A number of wildfires burned across Northern California late last week, and over the weekend. Firefighters have them all under control now, with the largest, the Humboldt Fire, now 90% contained with 74 homes destroyed, and at least $11 million in damage. Residents began returning to their homes to see what survived, and what could be salvaged. (16 photos total)

Firefighters work to contain the Humboldt fire which started Wednesday, had grown to 19,000 acres and threatened more than 5,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 1,300 firefighters were trying to contain the blaze, which was only 10 percent contained late Thursday June 12, 2008 in Butte Valley, CA. (AP Photo/Jason Halley - Chico Enterprise-Record)
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June 11, 2008 Permalink

Sidoarjo's Man-made Mud Volcano

On the two-year anniversary of its eruption, international scientists say they are almost certain a mud volcano that displaced tens of thousands of villagers in central Indonesia was caused by faulty drilling of a gas exploration well - not an earthquake as claimed by the gas company. "We are more certain than ever that the Lusi mud volcano is an unnatural disaster and was triggered by drilling" said Richard Davies, lead author of a study published this week in the academic journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Two years ago now, on 28 May 2006, gas company PT Lapindo Brantas exploring for gas in Sidoarjo, in East Java, Indonesia, drilled a borehole. At 5 AM, a secondary stage of drilling began and the drill string went about 9,300 feet down, after which the first small eruption of water, steam and a small amount of gas occurred at a location just southwest of the well. Several other eruptions followed over the next few days. The flow of hot mud has not ceased since.

Fourteen people have been killed and 30,000 people have been evacuated from the area. At least a dozen villages, with more than 10,000 homes have been destroyed while schools, offices and factories have also been wiped out and a major impact on the wider marine and coastal environment is expected. (11 photos total)


A villager displaced by an ocean of mud oozing from a mud volcano which began erupting nearly two years ago salvages bricks from the ruins of a village Thursday, May 29, 2008 in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia. For two years a hole in the earth has been oozing enough mud to fill 50 olympic size swimming pools every day and has covered villages and factories roof deep in mud and forced the evacuation of thousands.(AP Photo/Trisnadi)

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June 4, 2008 Permalink

Chaiten Volcano Still Active

Chaiten Volcano in Chile continues to erupt, after its recent eruption on May 6th, - its first activity in over 9,000 years. (12 photos total)

A plume of ashes spewed by the Chaiten volcano as seen from the city of Chaiten, 1,200km south from Santiago, Chile on May 5, 2008. (ALVARO VIDAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 29, 2008 Permalink

After the Quake

After nearly 70,000 confirmed deaths and five million people left homeless (as of May 29th), the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008 continues to cause hardship across the region. More than 30 "quake Lakes", formed by landslides have flooded many areas, relief and supplies are still needed and the cleanup continues. (13 photos total)

A couple reacts immediately after an earthquake struck during their wedding photo shoot at a deserted catholic seminary in Pengzhou in southwest China's Sichuan province Monday May 12, 2008. Five couples were having wedding photos taken when the earthquake struck, and all escaped without injury. The century-old seminary was destroyed in the quake, which left tens of thousands dead in Sichuan. (AP Photo)
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May 27, 2008 Permalink

Earthquake Damage in Beichuan County

Beichuan Qiang County, in Sichuan, China was one of the worst-affected regions during the Great Sichuan Earthquake of May 12, 2008. The townships of Qushan and Leigu were hit particularly hard, concrete structures crumbling to rubble under their own weight, or being crushed by landslides. (10 photos total)

A general view shows the earthquake-hit Beichuan county, about 160 km (99 miles) northeast of the epicenter of Wenchuan county, Sichuan province, May 13, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA).
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