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article imageAerial images reveal virus emptying famed sites

By AFP     Mar 5, 2020 in Travel

Empty public squares, a ghostly train station and deserted holy sites -- a series of striking satellite images have revealed the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on some of the world's busiest spaces.

The aerial photographs, released by Colorado-based space technology firm Maxar, show normally bustling spots from Mecca to Beijing thinned of people.

People in the courtyard of Hazrat Masumeh Shrine in Qom  Iran on September 25  2019 (top) and a near...
People in the courtyard of Hazrat Masumeh Shrine in Qom, Iran on September 25, 2019 (top) and a nearly empty courtyard on March 1, 2020
-, Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/AFP

One image shows a handful of pilgrims circling the granite Kaaba at Mecca's Grand Mosque -- a sacred site usually thronged with worshippers from every corner of the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabian authorities have suspended the year-round "umrah" pilgrimage to Islam's holiest place, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide.

Tiananmen Square on February 21  2019 (top) and an almost empty square on February 11  2020  during ...
Tiananmen Square on February 21, 2019 (top) and an almost empty square on February 11, 2020, during the novel coronavirus outbreak
-, Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/AFP

An image above the Hazrat Masumeh Shrine in Qom shows one of Iran's most hallowed places virtually empty as its famed golden dome shimmers in the sunlight.

Streets and courtyards around the shrine are similarly vacant.

Photos above Wuhan, China -- the epicentre of the global outbreak -- show dozens of trains parked up at the city's deserted Dongdamen Station.

Trains at China's Wuhan staion during the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 25  2020
Trains at China's Wuhan staion during the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 25, 2020
-, Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/AFP

With the city under lockdown and virtually cut off from the outside world since January 23, the usually bustling station has been transformed into a make-shift depot.

Elsewhere, Tiananmen square lives up to its name as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, with only a couple of dozen cars passing by and no pedestrians to be seen.

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