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Jose Luis Gonzalez

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For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have recently evacuated or otherwise abandoned a number of places around the world -- large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to vanish from the planet altogether. Collected here are recent scenes from nuclear-exclusion zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence, unsold developments built during the real estate boom, ghost towns, and more. [41 photos]

A tree grows from the top of a chimney in an abandoned factory yard in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, on October 2 , 2011. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

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THUMBS DOWN
THUMBS DOWN: Women in the House gallery in Concord, N.H., showed their displeasure as New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday to allow employers with religious objections to exclude contraceptive coverage from their health plans. The House voted 196-150 to send the bill to the Senate. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)

BURNED
BURNED: An Afghan doctor treated a woman as she lay on a hospital bed after she set herself on fire on Wednesday. (Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

MISSING MOM
MISSING MOM: Kevin Alberto, 2, held a photograph of his mother, Maricela Gonzalez, who has been missing since May 26, 2011, outside his home in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Tuesday. Hundreds of women and girls have been murdered in the city since 1993, many on their way to or from work at assembly-for-export factories. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

WIND IN THEIR HAIR
WIND IN THEIR HAIR: Visitors reacted to the rotor wash of the Marine One helicopter as President Barack Obama took off from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Wednesday, on his way to North Carolina. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

SLEEPING LIKE A BABY
SLEEPING LIKE A BABY: Three-year-old homeless boy Sarwar slept in a hammock along a sidewalk in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

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TIGHT SQUEEZE
TIGHT SQUEEZE: A fireman worked to remove a man who was stuck in a space between walls in Liujiang County in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Thursday. The man got stuck in the space less than eight inches wide while collecting waste material for recycling. (Zuma Press)

ISLAMIST-LED RALLY
ISLAMIST-LED RALLY: A man stood on his motorbike at a protest in Cairo Friday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians rallied in Tahrir Square with Islamists in the forefront to protest against what they say are attempts by the country’s military rulers to designate themselves as the guardians of a new Egypt. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

WELCOME TO BENIN
WELCOME TO BENIN: Women danced at a welcoming ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI at an airport in Cotonou, Benin, Friday. The 84-year-old pope is making his second trip to Africa, the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic Church. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

SHOOTING DRILL
SHOOTING DRILL: Students lay face-down in a classroom during a drill in a high school in a low-income neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday. More than 2,400 high school students and teachers carried out a shooting drill in high-risk areas due to the city’s level of violence, local media reported. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

TSUNAMI DAMAGE
TSUNAMI DAMAGE: A three-story building lay on its side in Onagawa, Japan, Friday. Though much of the debris left by the March 11 tsunami has been removed, there is little sign of rebuilding in communities across northeast Japan. (Greg Baker/Associated Press)

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BY A NOSE
BY A NOSE: Christophe Lemaire, top, rode Dunaden to victory at the Melbourne Cup in Australia Tuesday. Mr. Lemaire beat Michael Rodd on Red Cadeaux. (Racing Victoria/Reuters)

SUN AND SEA
SUN AND SEA: A Hindu woman prayed to the sun god in the Arabian Sea during the Chhath Festival in Mumbai Tuesday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

BENEFITS BACKLASH
BENEFITS BACKLASH: An elderly woman fought with a police officer during a protest in front of Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev Tuesday. About 1,000 people who assisted with the Chernobyl nuclear cleanup were outraged at planned benefit cuts. (Sergey Polezhaka/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

NO TREAT
NO TREAT: Children dressed in Halloween costumes looked at a crime scene in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday. A municipal police officer and his mother were shot dead at her house by hit men, according to local media. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

HELD BACK
HELD BACK: Police detained a Tibetan protester who shouted anti-China slogans in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

SHIPSHAPE
SHIPSHAPE: A welder stood on the unfinished hull of a ship in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, China, Tuesday. (Jia Ce/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

AT A LOSS
AT A LOSS: Angolan asylum-seeker Mauro Manuel cried during a rally in The Hague Tuesday. The Dutch Parliament denied the asylum seeker’s request. His mother put him on a plane in 2003 for a better future. A Dutch family took him in. (Koen Van Weel/European Pressphoto Agency)

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