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Juan Mabromata

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More than 500 teams are currently speeding across the deserts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru, racing more than 8,300 km (5,150 mi) in the 33rd annual Dakar Rally. Competitors pit themselves against the elements, driving specialized off-road cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes through challenging terrain for two weeks. One rider, Argentine Jorge Martinez Boero, has already died this year in a crash. The 2012 Dakar Rally began in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on January 1, and racers reached the finish line in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, January 15. [41 photos]

Stefan Svitko rides his KTM during the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally 2012, from Iquique to Arica, Chile, on January 11, 2012. (Reuters/Jerome Prevot)

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Back in the 1920s, a tourist village was established along the shore of Lago Epecuen, a salt lake some 600 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The resort town, named Villa Epucuen, soon had a railroad station, and it thrived for several decades, peaking in the 1970s with a population of more than 5,000. Around the same time, a long-term weather event was delivering far more rain than usual to the surrounding hills for years, and Lago Epecuen began to swell. In 1985, the salty waters broke through an earthen dam, and Villa Epecuen was doomed. A slow-growing flood consumed the town until it reached a depth of 10 meters (33 feet) in 1993. The wet weather later reversed, and the waters began to recede in 2009. AFP photographer Juan Mabromata recently visited the ruins of Villa Epecuen, met its sole inhabitant, and returned with these images. [20 photos]

Aerial picture of the ruins of Villa Epecuen, some 600 km southwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina, taken on May 3, 2011. The highly saline water of Lago Epecuen has receded in recent years, after flooding the village in 1985 and and submerging it under 10 meters (33 feet) of salt water for nearly 25 years. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

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