FLASH POINTS

The most moving, striking images from a year of terrible news

A protestor at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
A protestor at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Image: Reuters/Andrew Kelly
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Global terrorism, deadly natural disasters, and bitterly fought elections were just some of the touchstones of 2016—a year also punctuated with the unexpected deaths of several widely beloved artists and public figures. As each successive loss, disaster, and upset appeared in the news, many have remarked that this was a particularly dark year.

Around the world, photographers were there to capture this year’s lowest moments, and the stunning images below offer some glimpses of the losses and painful events people suffered—as well as the moments of human connection and bravery amid the darkness. Here’s hoping that 2017 lets in a little more light.

Massive wildfires throughout North America

An aerial view of Highway 63 south of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Canada, shows smoke from the wildfires. Taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5.
An aerial view of Highway 63 south of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Canada, shows smoke from the wildfires. Taken from a CH-146 Griffon helicopter on May 5.
Image: MCPL VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters
Embers from a wildfire smolder along Lytle Creek Road near Keenbrook, California, on Aug. 17.
Embers from a wildfire smolder along Lytle Creek Road near Keenbrook, California, on Aug. 17.
Image: AP Photo/Noah Berge

David Bowie’s sudden death

David Bowie Death
A woman with a Ziggy Stardust tattoo visits a mural of the star in Brixton, south London, Jan. 11.
Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Massive coordinated bombings in Brussels

Brussels Bombings
Nidhi Chaphekar, a 40-year-old Jet Airways flight attendant from Mumbai, right, and another unidentified woman are shown after being wounded in Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium, after explosions rocked the airport on March 22.
Image: Ketevan Kardava/Georgian Public Broadcaster via AP
Brussel Bombings
People observe a minute of silence at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels, on March 23, 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Migrants and refugees continued to endure dangerous—and sometimes deadly—journeys toward safety and peace

2016 AP Year End Photos
A woman cries as she crosses the river along with other migrants, north of Idomeni, Greece, attempting to reach Macedonia on a route that would bypass the border fence, on March 14, 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
Migrants during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 20.
Migrants during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 20.
Image: Yara Nardi/Italian Red Cross press office/Handout via Reuters

Four police officers from Dallas, Texas, were killed by an assailant with a sniper rifle

Officers leave the burial ceremony of Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Lorne B. Ahrens, who was among five police officers shot dead the previous week, on July 13.
Officers leave the burial ceremony of Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Lorne B. Ahrens, who was among five police officers shot dead the previous week, on July 13.
Image: Reuters/Cooper Neill
People, including a man wearing a confederate flag, hug after taking part in a prayer circle after a Black Lives Matter protest following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas on July 10.
People, including a man wearing a confederate flag, hug after taking part in a prayer circle after a Black Lives Matter protest following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas on July 10.
Image: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Jo Cox, a British member of Parliament, was murdered by a far-right extremist

A woman cries during a gathering to celebrate the life of murdered British MP Jo Cox, in Trafalgar Square, London, on June 22.
A woman cries during a gathering to celebrate the life of murdered British MP Jo Cox, in Trafalgar Square, London, on June 22.
Image: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Legendary recording artist Prince died suddenly from an opioid overdose

Fans embrace by a makeshift memorial outside Paisley Park, the home of singer Prince, on April 21 in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Fans embrace by a makeshift memorial outside Paisley Park, the home of singer Prince, on April 21 in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Image: AP Photo/Jim Mone

At the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 49 people were killed in a shooting rampage

Lucyvette Padro (right) attends the funeral of her son Angel Candelario, one of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, at his hometown of Guanica, Puerto Rico on June 18.
Lucyvette Padro (right) attends the funeral of her son Angel Candelario, one of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, at his hometown of Guanica, Puerto Rico on June 18.
Image: Reuters/Alvin Baez
Wilfredo Perez (L), a local bartender at a gay bar, is embraced by his partner Jackson Hollman during a vigil to commemorate victims of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016.
Wilfredo Perez (L), a local bartender at a gay bar, is embraced by his partner Jackson Hollman during a vigil to commemorate victims of a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016.
Image: Reuters/Adrees Latif

There were protests and a violence surrounding several elections across Africa.

Supporters of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping face security forces on August 31, during a protest after Gabon’s president Ali Bongo was declared the winner in a contested election.
Supporters of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping face security forces on August 31, during a protest after Gabon’s president Ali Bongo was declared the winner in a contested election.
Image: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty
Policemen beat a protester inside a building during clashes in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 16.
Policemen beat a protester inside a building during clashes in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 16.
Image: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

Native Americans and activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota were sprayed by water cannons in freezing temperatures

Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov 20.
Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, Nov 20.
Image: Reuters/Stephanie Keith

Thousands have been killed in the war on drugs since the Philippines elected Rodrigo Duterte president

Janeth Mejos reacts as the body of her father Paquito Mejos is taken out of their home shortly after he was killed in a police operation in Manila, Philippines on Oct. 14.
Janeth Mejos reacts as the body of her father Paquito Mejos is taken out of their home shortly after he was killed in a police operation in Manila, Philippines on Oct. 14.
Image: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

The Russian Ambassador to Turkey was gunned down at an art exhibition

A man identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas shouts after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey on Dec. 19.
A man identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas shouts after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey on Dec. 19.
Image: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

An earthquake struck central Italy, killing nearly 300 people, many in the town of Amatrice

Mourners cry next to a coffin at the funeral for victims of the earthquake that leveled the town in Amatrice, central Italy Aug. 30.
Mourners cry next to a coffin at the funeral for victims of the earthquake that leveled the town in Amatrice, central Italy Aug. 30.
Image: Reuters//Max Rossi

The US presidential election heightened tensions in a country divided by race, class, gender, and geography

Jerry Lambert, left, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Asa Khalif, a Black Lives Matter supporter, scuffle during a protest in Philadelphia on Sept. 2, 2016.
Jerry Lambert, left, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Asa Khalif, a Black Lives Matter supporter, scuffle during a protest in Philadelphia on Sept. 2, 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

New Delhi was trapped by clouds of choking air pollution…

Traffic moves around a smog-enveloped Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, India on Nov. 5, 2016.
Traffic moves around a smog-enveloped Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, India on Nov. 5, 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

…as was Beijing

A man smokes as he rides in smog during a polluted day in Beijing on Dec. 20.
A man smokes as he rides in smog during a polluted day in Beijing on Dec. 20.
Image: Reuters/Stringer

There were more instances of young black men shot by police in the US

Ieshia L. Evans, a demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9.
Ieshia L. Evans, a demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

A terrorist driving a cargo truck killed at least 85 people at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France

Bullet impacts are seen on the heavy truck the day after it ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day.
Bullet impacts are seen on the heavy truck the day after it ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day.
Image: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Hurricane Matthew killed more than a thousand in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti

People walk on a street next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew hit Jeremie, Haiti on Oct. 6.
People walk on a street next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew hit Jeremie, Haiti on Oct. 6.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

King Bhumibol Adulyadej died, sending the Thai people into a deep mourning

A woman cries as she holds a picture of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej while others clasp their hands to pay last respects to a passing van carrying the body of their king outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct. 14.
A woman cries as she holds a picture of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej while others clasp their hands to pay last respects to a passing van carrying the body of their king outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct. 14.
Image: AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn

The makeshift camp for refugees and migrants in Calais, France dubbed “The Jungle” was demolished

Smoke rises toward the sky as migrants and journalists look at burning makeshift shelters and tents in the “Jungle” on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, Oct. 26.
Smoke rises toward the sky as migrants and journalists look at burning makeshift shelters and tents in the “Jungle” on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, Oct. 26.
Image: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

The incalculable human suffering in Syria continues. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in the years-long civil war

A man carries an injured man amid rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on Aleppo’s rebel held al-Fardous district, Syria on July 16.
A man carries an injured man amid rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on Aleppo’s rebel held al-Fardous district, Syria on July 16.
Image: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail