Every Easter, in the Greek village of Vrontados, members of rival churches sitting across a small valley stage a “rocket war” by firing thousands of homemade rockets towards each other while services are held. The objective for each side is to strike the bell of the opposing church. The festival, called Rouketopolemos, has been celebrated by the churches of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani for at least 125 years, its exact origins a mystery. Gathered here are images of this rocket war from the past few years.
For the past few weeks, armed groups of pro-Russian men have been storming and seizing government buildings in towns across eastern Ukraine. Angered by the new pro-western Ukrainian government and emboldened by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, these groups are demanding separation from Ukraine. Ukraine’s new government has asked for western assistance, as it tries to recapture police stations, airbases, and other government properties — without resorting to violence that may trigger a Russian response. Meanwhile, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are deploying in eastern Ukraine, with even more Russian soldiers massed on the other side of the border. NATO officials said they planned to deploy more forces in eastern Europe and called for Russia to stop “destabilizing” the former Soviet satellite, which has been in deep turmoil since the ouster of the pro-Kremlin leadership in February.
From A Hundred-Pound Suit of Bees, one of 12 photos. She Ping, a 34 year-old beekeeper, covered with a swarm of bees on a small hill in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality on April 9, 2014. Ping released more than 460,000 bees, using queen bees to attract them to his body, and made himself a suit of bees that weighed 45.65kg (100 pounds) within 40 minutes. (AFP/Getty Images)
This year marks four decades since the Cyprus National Guard staged a coup that led to Turkish military intervention and escalated the civil war between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island. After the ceasefire, a heavily restricted buffer zone, controlled by the United Nations, was established between the north and south. It stretches 180 km (112 mi) across the whole island measuring 7.4 km (4.6 mi) at its widest and 3.3 m (11 ft) at its narrowest point. The demilitarized zone is restricted to the general public and no Greek or Turkish Cypriots are allowed inside. Reuters photographer Neil Hall recently visited the buffer zone, which still contains crumbling relics of times gone by - abandoned houses, businesses, and even an airport - crumbling snapshots of Cyprus in 1974.
Photographer Jason Hawkes has been making fascinating aerial images since 1991. With a gyro-stabilized camera, he takes photos directly from the open door of a helicopter. Hawkes has covered subjects around the world, but specializes in aerial shots of the United Kingdom. Once more, he’s been kind enough to share some of his recent photos with us here.
The editors of Smithsonian magazine have just announced the 60 finalists in their 11th annual photo contest. They’ve kindly allowed me to share several of these images here, including some great shots from each of the competition’s six categories: The Natural World, Travel, People, Americana, Altered Images and Mobile, a new category this year. Be sure to visit the contest page at Smithsonian.com to see all the finalists, and vote in the Reader’s Choice Awards as well.
Niedringhaus, a photographer with the Associated Press, was shot and killed by an Afghan policeman. Fellow reporter Kathy Gannon was also wounded.
Late Tuesday night, a tremendous earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile, near the town of Iquique. The magnitude 8.2 quake triggered a localized tsunami that battered the coastline with seven-foot waves. The shallow temblor (12.5 miles below the seabed) also set off dozens of aftershocks — 18 of them above magnitude 5.0 so far, including a magnitude 7.6 aftershock last night. Surprisingly, damage and casualties were very limited. Several fires erupted, smaller structures suffered minimal damage, and six deaths were reported — the victims were either crushed under debris or suffered fatal heart attacks. Today, Chile’s navy cancelled a tsunami alert and its emergency office, Onemi, which had earlier asked residents to evacuate the coastline, said people could return to their homes.
Despite decades of conflict in Afghanistan, the country’s capital city of Kabul is home to a vibrant youth scene, a handful of sleek shopping malls, cafes, and more. Reuters photographer Morteza Nikoubazl recently set out to document modern Kabul, populated by musicians, artists, athletes, and activists who are trying to live 21st-century lives in spite of massive infrastructure problems and the ever-present threat of militant attacks. Afghanistan is preparing for an election on April 5 that should mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, but it has been hit by a tide of violence as the Taliban has ordered its fighters to disrupt the vote and threatened to kill anyone who participates. Many of the people in these images were happy to be photographed, but did not want to give their names. This photo essay is part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.