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Oymyakon: The Coldest Town on Earth: Temperatures drop to -71.2C,

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Welcome to the coldest village on Earth where the temperature can hit -71.2C, mobiles don’t work… but homes still have outside toilets

  • Russian village of Oymyakon has lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location

  • Nothing grows so locals live off diet of reindeer meat and horse meat but never suffer malnourishment

  • Locals keep their cars running all day for fear of them not starting again if turned off

  • Digging graves for a funeral can take up to three days as ground has to be thawed with hot coals

IT GETS DOWN to well below zero in Oymyakon, Russia, long known as the coldest inhabited place on Earth. If that kind of climate is hard to wrap your brain around, such a temperature is so cold that people here regularly consume frozen meat, keep their cars running 24/7 and must warm the ground with a bonfire for several days before burying their dead.

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It’s hard to know why anyone would want to live in such a place, and harder still to imagine why anyone would want to visit. But photographer Amos Chapple just couldn’t resist.

“I shoot travel photos aimed at the news sections of papers and need a headline to hang a story on,” the New Zealander said. “‘The coldest place on Earth’ is pretty irresistible.”

He traveled more than 10,000 miles to reach this village of 500 residents tucked away in a remote corner of Siberia. It’s so nasty that planes can’t land during the winter, and it takes two days to arrive by car from Yakutsk, the nearest major city (it’s 576 miles away). Chapple spent several weeks shooting in Oymyakon and Yakutsk during the long, dark month of January in 2013 and 2014. His remarkable photos capture the cold, bleak landscape and the hardy residents who brave unimaginable conditions.

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Oymyakon sits at a 63.4608° N, 142.7858° E latitude, just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. It’s dark — completely, utterly dark — for up to 21 hours a day during the winter, and the temperature averages -58. That’s balmy compared to one February in 1933, when Oymyakon earned its title as the coldest place on Earth when the mercury plunged to -90.

Here arctic chill is simply a fact of life, something to be endured. People develop a variety of tricks to survive. Most people use outhouses, because indoor plumbing tends to freeze. Cars are kept in heated garages or, if left outside, left running all the time. Crops don’t grow in the frozen ground, so people have a largely carnivorous diet—reindeer meat, raw flesh shaved from frozen fish, and ice cubes of horse blood with macaroni are a few local delicacies.

Chapple found it difficult to speak with the people he encountered, as many people were rushing as fast as possible from one oasis of warmth to another. Those willing to chat warned him about the rampant alcoholism, particularly during the holiday months.

Oymyakon weather played hell with Chapple’s camera. He faced unending challenges while shooting. “There was a lot to learn, it took several days to figure out some tricks to be able to keep working,” he said. “From the moment I left the hotel in the morning the temperature of the camera would begin to drop. Once the guts of the camera froze, that was it for the day.”

Chapple would wander around with his jacket half open, trying to keep the camera warm against his body and drawing it out only when he had a shot. He also had to hold his breath when snapping frames, as the steam from his mouth would “swirl around like cigar smoke” and ruin the images.

He experienced the reality of Oymyakon’s bitter cold firsthand when he tried to take an overview shot of the town. There were no accessible hills near the village, so Chapple climbed up a radio mast in the center of the village, swinging nearly 50 feet above the ground. Still unable to get his shot, he hastily pulled off his outer gloves and took the photo.

“I could then shoot with some dexterity but by the time I got down to the ground my thumb had frozen,” Chapple said. “I had to make a dash for my guesthouse with my hand shoved down my trousers. For the next two weeks the skin on that thumb peeled like some kind of terrible sunburn.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

India doctors embark on strike aimed better security

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Source: Reuters

Thousands of doctors across India went on strike on Friday to demand better security at hospitals days after junior doctors in the city of Kolkata were attacked, leaving services in many government-run health facilities paralyzed.

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The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.

The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

Doctors demanding better security began a strike but their action was confined to the state until West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned them on Thursday, saying police did not strike when one of their colleagues was killed.

Banerjee’s remarks, which included a warning that junior doctors would be evicted from their college hostels if they did not go back to work, triggered a nationwide reaction.

The Indian Medical Association said the “barbaric” attack at the NRS reflected a national problem, and called for a countrywide protest. It also demanded legislation to safeguard doctors.

Nearly 30,000 doctors were on a one-day strike on Friday, most in West Bengal, New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, according to figures proved by medical associations.

The federal health minister, Harsh Vardhan, tried to calm the furor, promising better security at hospitals and calling on Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum.

“I urge doctors to end their strike in the larger interest of society. I will take all possible measures to ensure a safe environment for them at hospitals across the country,” Vardhan said on Twitter.

India spent an estimated 1.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2017/18, among the lowest proportions in the world. Many millions of Indians depend on the cheap but inadequate public health system.

Saradamani Ray, whose 77-year old father is a patient at the NRS Medical College, said she would have to move him because of the strike.

“I will have to take my father somewhere else for his dialysis, maybe a private hospital,” she told Reuters.

“It will cause a lot of financial strain, but there’s nothing I can do. I will have to pay.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

Ebola still a nightmare in Congo

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Source: BBC

The head of a major medical research charity has called the latest outbreak of Ebola in central Africa “truly frightening”.

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Nearly 1,400 people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, said the epidemic was the worst since that of 2013-16 and has showed “no sign of stopping”.

Two people have also died in neighbouring Uganda, the first cases of Ebola reported in the country.

A five-year-old boy infected with the virus died on Tuesday and his 50-year-old grandmother died on Wednesday, the Ugandan health ministry said.

The Ugandan government has reported at least six other suspected cases of the virus.

In a statement, Dr Farrar said the spread was “tragic but unfortunately not surprising”. He warned that more cases were expected, and a “full” national and international response would be needed to protect lives.

“The DRC should not have to face this alone,” he said.

Since the first case of Ebola in DR Congo last August, nearly 1,400 people have died – around 70% of all those infected.

The outbreak is the second-largest in the history of the disease, with a significant spike in new cases in recent weeks.

Only once before has an outbreak continued to grow more than eight months after it began – that was the epidemic in West Africa between 2013-16, which killed 11,310 people.

Efforts to contain the spread have been hindered by militia group violence and by suspicion towards foreign medical assistance.

Nearly 200 health facilities have been attacked in DR Congo this year, forcing health workers to suspend or delay vaccinations and treatments. In February, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) put its activities on hold in Butembo and Katwa – two eastern cities in the outbreak’s epicentre.

In Uganda, a five-year-old boy died of the virus on Tuesday, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


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