Winners of Spot News – Stories | World Press Photo 2020


A photojournalistic photograph’s intent is to inform and educate, and eventually, fuel the commencement of necessary reparations. Since 1955, the World Press Photo Awards has been an instrumental force in this arena, by bringing harrowing stories of terror, as well as those of hope and resilience. These stories scream vociferously of the world’s apathy against its citizens, that we need to do better. The foundation has announced the winners of the contest on its online channels on the 16th of April. Here is a look at the photographs from the 63rd edition of the awards.

First prize: Mulugeta Ayene, Ethiopia, Associated Press

Relatives grieve at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 13 March 2019. Photograph/Mulugeta Ayene

Mulugeta Ayene is a photographer for the Associated Press (AP) and works on regular assignments for prominent international organizations such as UNICEF the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to mention a few. Image credit: Houssem / Labo Photo Olympic

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Crash Site: On 10 March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, a Boeing 737 MAX, disappeared from the radar six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa airport and crashed into a field, killing all 157 people on board. The impact was so great that both engines were buried in a crater 10 meters deep.  A week after the crash, empty coffins were buried at a ceremony at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, as victims were unable to be identified. Officials gave relatives bags of earth from the crash site. On 14 November, eight months after the crash, the site of the impact was covered and the unidentified remains of victims buried in rows of identical coffins. Comparisons were made with the crash of a Lion Air aircraft, also a 737 MAX, 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta in October 2018. Countries across the world, initially with the exception of the US, grounded the 737 MAX. First reports showed that pilots had been unable to prevent the plane repeatedly nosediving, despite following procedures recommended by Boeing. It appeared that in both cases pilots were struggling to deal with an automated safety system designed to prevent stalling, which was repeatedly pushing the nose of the plane down. It seemed that the system was being activated, possibly due to a faulty sensor, even though nothing was wrong. It later emerged that American Airlines pilots had confronted Boeing about potential safety issues with the MAX. Boeing had resisted their calls but promised a software fix, which had not been done by the time Flight ET302 crashed. Planes remained grounded into 2020.

Relatives of a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash mourn at a ceremony for those killed, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 17 March 2019, a week after the incident. Photograph/Mulugeta Ayene

A relative of a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 plane crash throws dirt in her face as she grieves at the crash site, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 14 March 2019. Photograph/Mulugeta Ayene

Onlookers inspect debris at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11 March 2019. Photograph/Mulugeta Ayene

Second prize: Matthew Abbott, Australia, Panos Pictures, for The New York Times

A firefighting helicopter dumps water on a spot fire in Hillville, New South Wales, Australia, on 12 November 2019. Photograph/Matthew Abbott

Matthew Abbott is a documentary photographer based in Sydney, recognized for photographing social, cultural and political stories covering contemporary suburban and regional Australia.
Abbott is interested in intimate storytelling, shining a light on quiet moments that usually go unseen. He believes that storytelling works best when it comes from a close connection to its subjects. Image credit: Anna-Lena Roth

Australia’s Bushfire Crisis: The annual fire season in Australia began early and was exceptionally severe—following months of record-breaking drought and fanned by strong winds. Far stronger wildfires than usual, mostly battled by volunteer firefighters, raged through New South Wales and Victoria as well as areas in South Australia and Queensland, laying waste to bushland and rainforest and destroying homes. By the end of January 2020, more than 30 people had been killed, 3,000 homes lost, and around 12.6 million hectares of land burned (nearly three times the size of the Netherlands). Wildlife was harshly hit. Local scientists estimated that up to one billion animals perished, and more than 50% of the Gondwana rainforest traversing New South Wales and Queensland was burned. In December, while the intensity and speed at which many bushfires were spreading increased, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison went on holiday to Hawaii, and was prompted to return only after the death of two volunteer firefighters. He continued to champion a pro-fossil-fuel policy and held back from linking the fires to the climate crisis.

People take refuge on a beach near a caravan park at Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia, as fire approaches, on 31 December 2019. Photograph/Matthew Abbott

Aluminum, which melts at 660.3℃, has streamed from a burning car in Conjola Park, a town where bushfires razed more than 89 properties, in New South Wales, Australia, on 31 December 2019. Photograph/Matthew Abbott

Firefighters attempt to control flames in a burning house, as they threaten nearby properties, in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia, on 31 December 2019. Photograph/Matthew Abbott

Third prize: Oliver Weiken, Germany, Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Men stand around the body of a victim of a car bomb attack in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August 2019. Photograph/Oliver Weiken

Oliver Weiken began his career in 1996 while still a student, with the local newspaper ‘Warsteiner Anzeiger’ and then with Bongarts Sportfotografie shortly after. In 2017, Weiken returned to DPA to build their English photo wire and serve as Chief Photographer for the Middle East and North Africa, from their Cairo office.
Image credit: Omar Zoheiry

Deadly Bomb Blast in Cairo: At least 20 people were killed and 47 injured in a terrorist attack outside a cancer hospital in the Kasr al-Aini area of central Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August. Egypt’s Ministry of Interior said a car carrying a bomb drove into oncoming traffic and collided with three others, triggering the explosion and a fire that forced the evacuation of nearby buildings, including the hospital. Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik said that the car had been packed with explosives intended for use in terrorist attacks elsewhere. The Egyptian government put blame for the attack on the Islamist Hasm Movement, a violent breakaway faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was once the country’s largest Islamist group, but has been banned in Egypt since 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood itself has repeatedly distanced itself from the Hasm Movement and its violence. The Hasm Movement has carried out a string of attacks in Cairo in the past, but mostly against security forces and not civilians.

A man reacts at the site of a car bomb attack in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August 2019. Photograph/Oliver Weiken

Onlookers gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August 2019. Photograph/Oliver Weiken

People react in the aftermath of a car bomb attack in Cairo, Egypt, on 5 August 2019. Photograph/Oliver Weiken

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