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from Photographers' Blog:

Chance meeting 14 years on

By Andrew Winning

14 years ago this November I travelled to Nicaragua to cover one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit central America. Hurricane Mitch, the strongest October storm on record, ground to a halt just off the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras and brought almost two weeks of torrential rain down on the whole region. Rivers and streams became raging torrents as flash floods and mudslides left a trail of devastation and claimed over 9,000 lives.

With roads and infrastructure washed away the only way to reach the affected communities was by helicopter. Mexico, the United States and other countries lent theirs to help Nicaragua cope with the task of ferrying aid to populations cut off by the flooding and collecting the sick and injured for treatment in the capital.

On November 5, 1998 I flew with a U.S. Blackhawk to the flood ravaged community of Wiwili in the north east of Nicaragua near the border with Honduras. We touched down on a muddy sports field and within two minutes we had loaded a young girl with a fractured femur and an old man with a heart condition and we were airborne again on our way back to Managua. Volunteer Nicaraguan medics who endured the toughest of conditions to look after those affected by the storm had treated the two and called for them to be flown to Managua.

Back to the present in London. Two weeks ago I went around to see some Cuban friends for dinner. They wanted me to meet Nicaraguan doctor Jaime Matus who was in London to take over the research fellowship from my friend. As we became acquainted, Jaime told me he had been in Wiwili as a volunteer medic. Prompted by my wife, we began to look through the archive images I took on my very short visit to the community and then Jaime cried out, “hey, that’s me!”

from Photographers' Blog:

Rocking and Rolling on the Titanic Memorial Cruise

By Chris Helgren

In what resembles a Trekkie convention gone through a time portal, hundreds of passengers on the Titanic Memorial Cruise, retracing the Titanic's voyage from Southampton 100 years later, now divide their time between promenading in the latest fashions of 100 years ago and debating the true color of Titanic’s funnels. Yellow, but what kind of yellow? Model maker Kenneth Mascarenhas and painter James Allen Flood don’t see eye to eye on the subject, and it’s suggested that fellow passenger Commodore Warwick should adjudicate the issue. After all, he saw the Titanic wreck in a submersible. However, Mascarenhas fails to take into account that the ship is now rusted through and covered with Oceanic mud, its funnels probably covered in barnacles.

Actually, there are plenty of things to do on board the MS Balmoral. I missed the “fluid retention and swollen ankles seminar” on Monday, but there’s been a parade of Titanic experts on show to fill us in on everything one would want to know (except the color of funnels). Sadly, due to the inclement weather, shuffleboard has been cancelled the last two days. As has a dance show, due to health and safety concerns. Many of my fellow passengers have been sighted hunched over, unable to promenade, green with seasickness.

from Photographers' Blog:

Empty spaces

By Carlos Barria

A year ago I went to Japan to cover the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the country's northern coast.

At the time I was shocked by the scale of the destruction and felt I needed to show the magnitude of the disaster. I tried to fill my pictures with as many elements as possible. I even took a series of panoramic-format photographs, for a wider view.

from Photographers' Blog:

The place that adults fear

By Toru Hanai

March 11 is here again in Japan.

A year after the tsunami devastated Higashi Matsushima city in Miyagi, seven-year-old Wakana Kumagai visited the grave of her father Kazuyuki with her mother Yoshiko, brother Koki, and her grandparents.

I first met Wakana last April, just weeks after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami devastated Japan’s northeast Pacific coast. The school year begins in April here in Japan, and Wakana was carrying her new, shiny red school backpack as she visited her father at a temporary graveyard that housed those who died from the tsunami. She gracefully bowed to her dad, showing off her new bag and her dress she wore for the first grader’s ceremony as if she were at a ball, and told him that she just attended her school for the first time. Her graceful bow struck my heart.

from Photographers' Blog:

The tornadoes March

By Harrison McClary

1,000 miles

March came roaring in with deadly storms leaving a trail of destruction across the mid-western states. I was covering a Rick Santorum campaign stop when picture editor Bob Strong called to ask if I could head over to Crossville, Tennessee to cover an area hit by the tornadoes the following morning.

I arrived on the scene to find the access road closed. I looked at my GPS and saw a small road that appeared to parallel the main road, so I turned on it and followed until trees blocked the road. I could easily see where the destroyed homes were, so I got out to walk. I climbed over, and crawled under fallen trees and foraged through the mountainous countryside until finally getting to the bottom of the valley. Once there I discovered the road was washed out.

from Photographers' Blog:

Clinging to life in a tsunami zone

By Toru Hanai

Choufuku Ishisone of Miyako, Iwate prefecture, owns a convenience store.

On March 11, 2011, Ishisone was driving to see his store after checking on his house following the earthquake and saw a black tsunami wave roar over a seawall. He made a U-turn, but the tsunami struck him from multiple directions, sending his car afloat. The engine stopped. He jumped out of the car in a hurry but lost his footing in the tsunami and was swallowed up in the thick, black water.

He managed to avoid cars, ships and other debris carried by the tsunami but the water level continued to rise steadily. Grabbing onto a power line pole as he was swept past, he scrambled up so desperately that he was about five meters high before he knew it.

from Photographers' Blog:

One year from that day

By Toru Hanai

It will soon be one year from that day - March 11, 2011.

Greetings among friends who meet after a long absence begins with, "Where and what were you doing on March 11?"

On March 11, 2011, I was photographing Prime Minister Naoto Kan during a committee session at the Parliament building in Tokyo.

from Full Focus:

Tsunami: Before and after

The moment when the tsunami struck Japan and the same view today.

from Photographers' Blog:

Fukushima’s invisible fear

By Issei Kato

These days, a mask, protective clothing and radiation counter have all become a usual part of reporting trips, as essential as a camera, lenses and a laptop. Soon, this situation will have gone on for a full year.

The 20 km (12 mile) zone around Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is now a virtual ghost town after being evacuated of residents due to radiation. I asked a friend, who was forced by the disaster to leave the area and has been searching for a way to resume work, for help, and was able to enter the area where he used to live.

from Photographers' Blog:

Risking life for school

By Beawiharta

On Wednesday morning I received an image on my twitter feed (@beawiharta). It was a photo from a local newspaper that showed a student crossing a river on a collapsed bridge. The picture caught me. I needed to find out where it was so I could go there to capture it.

Shortly afterwards I arrived at the office. I had forgotten about the collapsed bridge because we were very busy. I had two assignments for the day, a breast milk courier story and a story about Indonesia's rising investment rating. This was a big financial story because Moody’s ratings agency restored Indonesia debt to investment grade.

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