This Week in Pictures: Aug. 20-26
The 2016 Summer Olympics came to a close on Sunday night, transforming Rio’s Maranã Stadium — surrounded by spectators watching from the outside — into the center of the city’s carnival-like celebrations.
American gymnast Simone Biles carried the flag for the United States in the closing ceremony, which ended with the passing off of the Olympic flag for the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo. The 19-day games culminated in a combined 46 gold medals awarded to the U.S. They were also the last Olympic games for swimmer Michael Phelps, who has earned 23 gold medals, and 28 total medals, since his Olympic debut in 2000.
Helen Louise Maroulis, a 24-year-old Maryland native, made history this year when she became the first U.S. woman athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for wrestling. Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt cemented his status as the world’s fastest man, winning the 100-meter competition for the third time in a breathtaking 9.81 seconds. Meanwhile, Biles continued to prove her dominance over the women’s gymnastics field, finishing her first Olympics with five medals — four of them gold. The U.S. trio of Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin swept the 100-meter hurdles, marking the first time a nation has swept the podium in the event.
Later in the week, a devastating 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, reducing ancient Roman ruins to dust. Since then, almost 1,000 aftershocks have been recorded, up to a magnitude of 4.7. By Friday, the death toll had reached 267, with thousands still displaced. On the same morning a 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook Bagan, Myanmar, killing four people and damaging dozens of ancient temples and pagodas.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, attackers killed 12 people when they used firearms and explosives to overrun the American University. A suicide bomber on Saturday killed 54 people in Turkey’s southeastern city of Gaziantep when he walked into a wedding party strapped with plastic explosives.
Flooding ravaged cities across India, Yemen and Louisiana, where the flood is being called the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy four years ago. After some controversy, President Obama on Tuesday visited the state in an effort to assess the damage and recovery. Twenty parishes have been declared federal disaster areas.
Fires, too, continued to rage, burning across parts of Indonesia, Spain and Portugal.
On a lighter note, the United States this week observed the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. It was established within the Department of the Interior by President Woodrow Wilson and has since been charged with protecting, preserving, and educating Americans about the country’s iconic national, natural treasures.