The best pictures of the year, agency AFP

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps competes in the men’s 200m individual medley heats at the London Games on August 1. Phelps became the greatest Olympian of all time this year when he secured his 19th medal with victory in the men’s 4x200mn relay, smashing the 48-year record of Russian gymnast Larissa Latyina

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>Jumping for joy: Serena Williams celebrates her win after the women’s singles final on day 12 of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament. The victory over Agnieszka Radwanska was her fifth overall Wimbledon title, the same number as sister Venus. The pair later partnered up to take the women’s doubles title

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>New taxi cabs in a flooded car park in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in October. The superstorm devastated the Northwestern United States, costing an estimated $65 billion of damage. At least 250 people were killed in seven countries along the storm’s path

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>People board the NY Waterways ferry to Manhattan after the storm. On October 26, three days before the storm made landfall, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for every county in the state of New York. The storm left parts of the state without power, including much of lower Manhattan south of 34th Street

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>In July, visitors to central China’s Henan province gathered to watch giant gushes of water get released from the Xiaolangdi dam to clear up the Yellow river and prevent localized flooding. China is hit by downpours every summer, often causing fatalities – in 2010 the nation’s worst flooding in a decade left more than 4,300 dead or missing

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>A boy swims amongst the debris as he tries to salvage belongings from destroyed homes in Manila. The informal settler area was hit by two barges in July, when the strong winds and rains of Tropical Storm Saola hit the capital. At least one person was killed and millions were left without power when the storm struck the country

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>In January, the cruise ship Costa Concordia grounded in front of the harbour of Isola del Giglio in Italy after hitting underwater rocks and tearing a 50m gash in her hull. It took six hours to evacuate the ship and more than 30 people lost their lives on board. Italian captain Francesco Schettino was fired by the Costa Cruises line

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>A man walks past an ice covered car on the frozen waterside promenade at Lake Geneva in the city of Versoix, near Geneva in Switzerland, in early February. A vicious cold snap swept across Europe in the late winter, and the associated death toll soon rose to more than 260

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>A fire ball rises over the city of Gaza as the Israeli air force carries out a raid for the fourth consecutive day in November. Medics said 40 Gazans have been killed and more than 350 wounded since Israel launched the aerial campaign on the enclave on November 14

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>Tibetan exile Jamphel Yeshi, 27, runs as he is engulfed in flames after he set himself on fire during a protest in New Delhi last march. Tibetans at the rally were protesting against an upcoming visit to India by Chinese President Hu Jintao, according to police. Self-immolation is common among Tibetans protesting against Chinese rule

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