Asia – A Week in Pictures 31 October 2010

November 1, 2010

In terms of the Ring of Fire, Indonesia had just been too quiet. Warnings that Mount Merapi, which towers above the outskirts of Yogyakarta city on Java island, was about to erupt, were heeded by some and ignored by many. On Monday, a 7.5 magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that hit the remote western Mentawai islands killing at least 343.  A day later, Mount Merapi erupted, killing at least 34.  It took almost three days for Jakarta based photographer Crack Palinggi to reach the scene of the devastation caused by the tsunami. Beawiharta was quicker to scene of the volcano; needless to say it’s always worth standing well back when people are evacuating from an erupting volcano.  Bea’s picture screams panic, heat and noise of those fleeing as hot ash falls to earth, the drama amplified by the flash blur technique used.  It is in complete contrast to the picture taken a day later of sombre near silence as rescue workers crunch through the muffled ashen landscape like newly fallen snow.


 A woman covers her baby as she runs from ash falling from an erupting volcano at Kaliurang village in Sleman, near Indonesia’s ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. Mount Merapi erupted on Tuesday, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes, witnesses said.  REUTERS/Beawiharta


Volunteers carry the bodies of those who died after Mount Merapi erupted, at Kinarrejo village in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 27, 2010. One of Indonesia’s most dangerous volcanoes has killed at least 15 people since it began erupting, forcing thousands to flee mountain villages and blanketing nearby villages and towns in ash, witnesses said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Beawiharta

As well as these two powerful images, more pictures are needed to tell the whole story. We want to see the volcano erupting and the great plume of smoke, we want to see how it affects people with their day to day life; the ash covered glass and noodle bowl perfectly illustrate this. Last of all we want to be there, safe in our car as we drive through the chaos. Dwi’s picture shot through the rear screen of the car he is travelling in a sheer touch of genius when it comes to visual story telling.


Mount Merapi spews smoke as seen from Sidorejo village, in Klaten, Central Java October 29, 2010. Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted on Thursday for the second time in a week, blasting vast plumes of ash into the sky, as the death toll from the initial eruption and a tsunami that hit remote western islands reached 377. REUTERS/Andry Prasetyo


A bowl of noodles and a glass are covered by ash on a table at Mbah Marijan’s house at Kinarrejo village in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 27, 2010. Mbah Marijan, who is the guardian of Mount Merapi, was one of the victims of the eruption. He was found dead in his house, according to local media reports. One of Indonesia’s most dangerous volcanoes has killed at least 15 people since it began erupting, forcing thousands to flee mountain villages and blanketing nearby villages and towns in ash, witnesses said on Wednesday.  REUTERS/Beawiharta


Motorists travelling on an ash-covered street are seen through a car window after the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano, in the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 30, 2010. Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted again on Saturday morning, spewing ash into the sky, and prompting authorities to extend the danger radius by two kilometers (1.24 miles). REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

Tsunami was a word that many in the west had not really heard until December 2004, when a tsunami caused by an earthquake of 9 magnitude off Sumatra killed more than 226,000 people. It was the deadliest tsunami on record. Now the threat of tsunami strikes fear in the heart of many. An earthquake at sea and immediately warnings of the possibility of a tsunami start to come in. The 7.5 magnitude quake that triggered the tsunami was the start of Crack Palinggi’s epic journey, car, plane, ferry, motor boat and foot to get to the stricken village. The sea had left nothing in its wake except the devastation, death and sadness captured in these pictures.


Matt George, a U.S. doctor attached to an NGO, provides medical assistance to survivors of  the earthquake and tsunami in Munte, Mentawai region, in the province of West Sumatra October 29, 2010. Officials said the death toll from a tsunami that hit the remote western Mentawai islands on Monday had reached at least 343. The tsunami was triggered on Monday by a 7.5 magnitude quake.  REUTERS/Crack Palinggi


A view of a tsunami-hit area in South Pagai subdistrict in Indonesia’s Mentawai islands October 28, 2010. The tsunami that pounded remote islands in western Indonesia following an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra has killed more than 100 people and left hundreds more missing. REUTERS/HO/Presidential Palace-Abror Rizki

The frosty relationships between China, Japan and the US refuse to thaw even though Vietnam extended the hand of friendship to the squabbling nations. Concerns over the sovereignty of the Islands the Japanese call the Senkaku islands and the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the fears over rare earth minerals exports boiled over into an international spat to add a chilled political wind. The 17th ASEAN plus three summit, not the richest of source material for photographers, but Thailand based photographer Damir Sagolj captured the moment that summed the political tensions up and probably sent the respective PR managers into a flat spin.  A moment later the leaders all holding hands and smiling for the orchestrated photocall, but the real news image had already been taken.


Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (C) stretches out his hands toward Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan (R) and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao at the start of 13th ASEAN Plus Three Summit on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi October 29, 2010. Ties between China and Japan deteriorated last month following the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain by the Japanese coast guard after their boats collided near disputed islands in the East China Sea.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Rare earth minerals are basically high-tech ores used in lasers, superconductors, computers and other electronics, including the nuclear industry, China being one of the major exporters. Considering these material are usually manufactured in a sterile working environment I was intrigued by this picture below of a worker wading through the water and mud at a rare earth mine.


A labourer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province October 29, 2010. The world’s most populous country has already tightened control on raw materials it considers critical to its its rapid economic development, and would have little reason to back down on the rare earths issues, said Charl Malan, precious metals and mining analyst at Van Eck Associates Corp, which on Thursday launched the first U.S.-listed exchange-traded fund focused on rare earths and other so-called strategic metals. REUTERS/Stringer

Two more images that really caught my eye are the “Bressonesque” image of the worker jumping across a puddle at a building site in Taiyuan and the affectionate picture shot by Kevin Zhao of Tibetan monks playing with snow at their monastery. Both perfectly timed a split second before a moment we all know is going to happen, splash and splat. Finally I can hardly let October pass without mentioning Halloween. Aly Song headed into the night in Shanghai and using a second long exposure and a flash captured this spooky image of people frightening each other – no trick,  just a treat.


A worker jumps over a puddle near a residential construction site in Taiyuan, Shanxi province October 26, 2010. What’s weak is strong, what’s down is up, what’s loose is tight — pretty much everything that defines the American and European economies these days finds its diametric opposite in China. REUTERS/Stringer


Tibetan monks play with snow at the Taer Monastry in Huangzhong county, Qinghai province, October 26, 2010. Picture taken October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Zhao


People wear masks as they celebrate Halloween in Shanghai October 29, 2010. Picture taken with a flashlight using a one-second exposure. REUTERS/Aly Song

After the super typhoon Megi swept through the region in the week previous Thailand suffered its worse flooding in decades. Life went on with Chaiwat Subprasom coming across this beautiful picture of children playing in the water, watching TV, in their home.


Residents watch television at their flooded house in Bangkok October 25, 2010.  Floodwaters from northeast provinces, which have swamped thousands of acres of farmland, have spread to the Thai capital.  REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

The following pictures all seem to me to be linked by the notion of the moment of a step. The soldiers in Afghanistan seems to be in a dance against the elements, the stiffened police in an Irish jig (arms tightly held to the side as the legs work in a way that should not be tried at alone home) as they walk past the woman who is simultaneously using two mobile devices (respect to her); the man in Tokyo whose stride mirrors the crossing sign so perfectly to make me wonder if the sign was actually modelled on the way he walks; and finally the shiny leather boots of the solder that say “I am staying here no matter what happens”.


Private First Class Benjaman Brickman, of Albany, New York,(R) and PFC Brandon Voris, 19, of Lebanon, Ohio, both from the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Alpha Company hold onto each other as they struggle against heavy winds during a sandstorm at their remote outpost near Kunjak in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, October 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly


A woman looks at her mobile phones while police officers pass by outside the venue of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya, central Japan October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao


A man walks under traffic signs in Tokyo October 29, 2010. The words on the red sign board read: “Stop”. REUTERS/Issei Kato


Soldiers stand in formation during a send-off ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Metro Manila October 27, 2010. The Philippine military will dispatch 370 officers and soldiers to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights next month.  REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Lastly and purely due to my love of light, no matter what the source, are two pictures that to me are worlds apart. The soft shadows from Nepal to the stark sparks of industrial Korea.


A man heads for work in the early morning at Khokana valley near Kathmandu October 29, 2010. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar


Hyundai Motor’s sedans are assembled at a plant of the automaker in Asan, about 100 km (62 miles) south of Seoul, October 28, 2010. Hyundai Motor, the world’s No.5 car maker along with affiliate Kia, sees new models and robust demand in emerging markets fueling strong near-term earnings momentum, after posting a forecast-beating third-quarter profit on market share gains. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won


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