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The annual monsoon rains have come heavy and early to India, swelling the Ganges, India's longest river, sweeping away houses, stranding thousands, and and killing more than 100 so far. Record downpours fell in Uttarakhand state, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, causing mudslides and flooding mountain villages. The high water is now reaching the capital of New Delhi, where nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated to government-run camps on higher ground. Authorities there said the situation would ease as the level of the Yamuna River was expected to start receding Thursday afternoon. [23 photos]

A submerged idol of Hindu Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, on June 18, 2013. Torrential monsoon rains have cause havoc in northern India leading to flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides as the death toll continues to climb and more than 1,000 pilgrims bound for Himalayan shrines remain stranded. (AP Photo)     

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Original author: 
Meghan Lyden

Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Wednesday by honoring climbers who followed in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Nepalese officials offered flower garlands and scarfs to the climbers who took part in the ceremony. They were taken around Katmandu on horse-drawn carriages followed by hundreds of [...]

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Original author: 
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Sixty years ago today New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first confirmed ascent of the world's tallest peak which reaches 29,029 feet. Since then thousands of people have made the attempt, with many perishing. Just last week 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit for the third time, although he said that he nearly died on the descent and that this would be his last time. The 1953 expedition that took Hillary and Norgay to the top ended with a stay of just 15 minutes, with Norgay leaving chocolates in the snow and Hillary leaving a cross that was given to him by Army Colonel John Hunt, the leader of the British expedition. -- Lloyd Young ( 37 photos total)
Tenzing Norgay, left, and Sir Edmund Hillary on their historic ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. (Associated Press)     

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Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Ice sculptures constructed for the celebration of Orthodox Epiphany stand on the Lena river, outside Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 17. The coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere have been recorded in Sakha, in the Oymyakon valley, where, according to the United Kingdom Met Office, a temperature of -90 degrees Fahrenheit was registered in 1933 - the coldest on record in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century. Yet despite the harsh climate, people live in the valley, and the area is equipped with schools, a post office, a bank and even an airport runway.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Ruslan, 35, loads blocks of ice onto a truck outside Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 17.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

A man takes a drink in the cabin of his truck in the village of Ytyk-Kyuyol in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia on Jan. 19.

By Maxim Shemetov, Reuters

One loses all bearings when faced with the shroud of white that obscures all things mid January in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. Only the traffic lights and gas pipelines overhanging the roads help you to find your way. Wrapped in frosty fog, the city life seems frozen in a sleepy half-light. It is -54 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

A man takes a dip in the icy waters of the Lena River inside a tent to celebrate Orthodox Epiphany outside Yakutsk, in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 18.

The Oymyakon valley, the Pole of the Cold, is the coldest known place in the Northern hemisphere. Thermometers registered a record chill of -88 degrees Fahrenheit in 1933, shortly after weather monitoring began here in the end of the 1920s.

And yet, here are schools, a post office, a bank, even an airport runway (albeit one that is open only in the summer) – all the trappings of a civilized life in the valley’s center at Tomtor. I could not help asking local people how they carried on a normal semblance of life in such extreme conditions. Sergey Zverev, a smiling villager in his 40s, said class was cancelled once when he was a school boy because the air temperatures had dropped to -85F. To celebrate he and his classmates got together to play football on the icy streets.

Read the full story on Reuters' Photographers Blog.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

The roof of a house is covered with snow in the village of Tomtor in the Oymyakon valley in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 24.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

A girl poses in the village of Oymyakon, in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 26.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Sergei Burtsev, 41, a meteorologist, prepares to launch a weather balloon in the village of Tomtor in the Oymyakon valley, in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 30.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

A car drives through the snow at night near Vostochnaya meteorological station in the Republic of Sakha, northeast Russia, on Jan. 20.

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Previously on PhotoBlog:

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One loses all bearings faced with the shroud of white that obscures all things mid January in the Siberian city of Yakustk: it is -48 C (-54 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

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In today’s pictures, a young passenger gets a lift at a Miami airport, ultraorthodox Jewish men transfer sins to chickens, referees make a controversial call in Seattle and more.

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Photographer Davide Monteleone and I may have had one of the only drivers in the Gobi—that forbidding expanse of gravel and sand in southern Mongolia—who had no sense of direction. Granted, the instructions we received were pretty vague: at the second (or was it the third?) livestock path, we should take a left. What counted as an animal thoroughfare, we wondered? Was it that little indentation in the gravel? Or the line of hoof prints heading east?

After much bumping along, we finally reached our destination, a traditional Mongolian circular tent called a ger, surrounded by a crowd of camels, goats and other livestock. I wanted to talk to the herders, who were unhappy with the compensation they had received from Oyu Tolgoi, the copper and gold mine that is Mongolia’s biggest foreign investment project to date and which may add one-third of future value to the country’s GDP. Davide was photographing the forbidding panorama and the hardy nomads who live there. And then, just as he was trying to compose a picture that would convey the aridness of the landscape, it began to rain. Fat drops fell, landing on the camels’ eyelashes. Here we were in one of the driest places on earth, in the middle of a freak rainstorm.

Mongolia is a land of improbable contrasts. It is the most sparsely populated country on the planet, with fewer than 3 million people. Yet it is also, by some estimates, the world’s fastest growing economy, powered by at least $1.3 trillion in untapped minerals. The natural-resource boom is remaking the capital, Ulan Bator, which now boasts shiny new skyscrapers and luxury malls that contrast with the city’s decrepit Soviet architecture. Yet one-third of the country remains impoverished. Democracy, which the country’s citizens embraced after a peaceful revolution in 1990 that displaced the long-ruling socialists, gives people a voice through regular elections. But corruption has eroded the life-changing potential of the rush of foreign investment—valued at $5 billion last year in a country with a $10 billion GDP. Mongolia, today, is increasingly a land of haves and have-nots, a land of both wind-chapped nomads and mining executives who power Hummers, not horses. For anyone in Mongolia, our off-course driver included, it’s hard not to feel disoriented.

Hannah Beech is TIME’s China bureau chief and East Asia correspondent.

Davide Monteleone is a Moscow-based photographer represented by VII. See more of his work here.

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Post-Soviet countries on the Caspian Sea face “the painful period of societal adolescence,” says Berlin-based photographer Mila Teshaieva. Twenty years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., countries in this oil-lush region continue to search for new national identities. Teshaieva’s project Promising Waters explores economic realities in three Caspian Sea states: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. “From almost the very beginning,” she says, “this story was about the dreams and changes both originated in and stimulated by the Caspian resources.”

Teshaieva’s lens responds to the sense of uncertainty in the region, and her subjects are striking, from migrant Uzbek workers building mausoleums for the new rich in Kazakhstan to refugees living in plywood settlements in Azerbaijan. The desolation and empty landscapes in her photos point to a fragile future. “Fishermen don’t know if they will find fish. Refugees are waiting to learn if they can return to Karabakh. The luxury resort remains empty,” Teshaieva says.

The photographer recalls one moment in her travels that captured the essence of Promising Waters. While she was working in Turkmenistan, her driver could not read the road signs or directions—the alphabet was changed from Cyrillic to Latin 20 years ago, and he has yet to learn the new symbols. Instead, he has resorted to intuition to find his routes. Teshaieva’s narrative in Promising Waters is the same idea: “I want to tell about societies that have lost direction but try to find the way, despite not being able to read signs,” she says.

Mila Teshaieva will be revisiting the region on March 29, 2012 to continue her project. She is a Berlin-based photographer represented by Laif photo agency, Cologne. See more of her work here.

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