Pictures of the Year: Part 1 (January to June 2018)

Pictures of the Year: Part 1 (January to June 2018) Newsweek

Bomb cyclones, earthquakes, mass demonstrations and even awkward handshakes—the first half of 2018 may seem like a century ago, but it birthed a number of moments which are still etched into our collective memory.

The year started off with the U.S. east coast battling heavy snow, freezing temperatures and road blockages to return to work after the Christmas period. The next month, Taiwan was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that ripped through the northeast of the island nation, destroying buildings and killing more than a dozen people.

February also saw the tragic mass-shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers. The shooting shocked the nation, and added an extra emotional charge to America's ongoing gun debate.

Read more: Pictures of the Year: Part 2 (July to December 2018)

The strength and maturity of the surviving students, some of whom went on to campaign for stricter gun control laws, provided a shred of hope among the tragedy. It was partly their bravery that inspired the following month's March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, D.C., the biggest call for gun control in a generation.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated in May when Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in Gaza, killing sixty people, including a number of children, and injuring thousands. As the border violence reached a peak, the controversial new U.S. embassy opened in Jerusalem: "Big day for Israel. Congratulations!" wrote President Donald Trump on Twitter.

Volcanoes dominated the news at the end of May and beginning of June. First, Hawaii's Kilauea erupted, destroying the state's largest freshwater lake and belching streams of molten lava that burned up everything in their path en route to the ocean. The following month, the eruption of Fuego Volcano covered Guatemalan villages in thick ash and left almost 200 people dead.

Back in the U.S., the debate over immigration was at the forefront of the news agenda amid reports that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) was separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The heartbreaking image of a two-year-old Honduran girl crying at the feet of police went viral.

Less than two weeks later, first lady Melania Trump was snapped leaving Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland wearing a jacket emblazoned with the phrase, "I really don't care, do u?" en route to visiting a migrant child detention center. It remains unclear whether Melania was stating her own indifference, criticizing her husband, or if it was a classically tone-deaf faux pas from the Trump White House.

Read more: Pictures of the Year: Part 2 (July to December 2018)

We've selected some of the most defining images of the first half of 2018—six months where gun control, immigration, climate change and international affairs dominated the headlines.

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Geoff Robins/AFP

January 9, 2018: An observation point at the base of Niagara Falls is covered with ice after a giant winter "bomb cyclone" walloped the U.S. east coast with heavy snow and freezing temperatures.

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Ihlas News/AFP

January 14, 2018: A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane is seen stuck on a muddy embankment just yards from the sea after skidding off the airstrip at Trabzon in northern Turkey with 168 people on board. 

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Hasan Mohamed/AFP

January 22, 2018: A Syrian girl holds an oxygen mask over the face of an infant at a makeshift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus.

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Menahem Kahana/AFP

January 22, 2018: A murmuration of starlings seem to form the shape of a bird as they perform their traditional evening dance in the Negev desert near the southern Israeli city of Rahat.

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VCG/VCG via Getty Images

January 26, 2018: An aerial view of the snow-covered Yang Gong Causeway over West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. 

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Police/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

January 27, 2018: A policeman checks an unexploded 1,000-pound World War II bomb which was discovered 50 feet underground at a construction site in Wanchai District, Hong Kong.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

January 30, 2018: Members of Congress seem more interested in their cell phones as President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address in Washington, DC. 

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Stefanie Glinski/AFP

February 7, 2018: Newly released child soldiers wait in line during a ceremony in Yambio, South Sudan. More than 300 child soldiers, including 87 girls, were released in South Sudan's war-torn region of Yambio under a programme to help reintegrate them into society.