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

A protestor at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Reuters/Andrew Kelly
A protestor at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
By Johnny Simon
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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

MCPL VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters
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.
AP Photo/Noah Berge
Embers from a wildfire smolder along Lytle Creek Road near Keenbrook, California, on Aug. 17.

David Bowie’s sudden death

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

Massive coordinated bombings in Brussels

Ketevan Kardava/Georgian Public Broadcaster via AP
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.
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
People observe a minute of silence at the Place de la Bourse in the center of Brussels, on March 23, 2016.

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

AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
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.
Yara Nardi/Italian Red Cross press office/Handout via Reuters
Migrants during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea on Oct. 20.

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

Reuters/Cooper Neill
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.
Carlo Allegri/Reuters
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.

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

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

Legendary recording artist Prince died suddenly from an opioid overdose

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

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

Reuters/Alvin Baez
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.
Reuters/Adrees Latif
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.

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

Marco Longari/AFP/Getty
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.
Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Policemen beat a protester inside a building during clashes in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 16.

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

Reuters/Stephanie Keith
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.

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

Reuters/Damir Sagolj
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.

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

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
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.

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

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

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

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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.

New Delhi was trapped by clouds of choking air pollution…

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

…as was Beijing

A man smokes as he rides in smog during a polluted day in Beijing on Dec. 20.

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

Reuters/Jonathan Bachman
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.

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

Reuters/Eric Gaillard
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.

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

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

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

AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn
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.

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

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
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.

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

Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail
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.

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