The village of Oymyakon in Russia’s Yakutia region is the coldest human settlement permanently-inhabited in the world.
The thermometer in a remote Siberian village known as the coldest inhabited place on earth broke as temperatures plunged to near-record depths.
The public device, which was installed in Oymyakon as a tourist attraction, recorded -62C, before malfunctioning.
Meanwhile the Siberian Times reports that some locals had readings as low as -67C – in touching distance of the record -67.7C, which was logged in the village in February 1933.
That temperature was the lowest ever recorded outside the Antarctic and cemented the village, in the Yakutia region, the coldest permanently-inhabited place on earth.
And while most people in the colder regions of the U.S. weigh the value of springing for the remote start to heat their cars before they go outside, Oymyakon residents have to keep their cars running all the time so they batteries don’t die. Their diets often consist of raw or frozen meat and alcoholism is a rampant problem.
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The all-time coldest temperature there, minus 98 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded in 2013. Yet it is still some way off the coldest temperature ever recorded on the planet, which was -94.7C captured by a NASA satellite in east Antarctica in 2013.
Oymyakon has 500 residents and its name means “non-freezing water” due to a nearby thermal spring.
The settlement originally developed as a stopover for reindeer herders who came to water their animals at the spring.
The Soviet government wanted its nomadic population to put down roots. As a result, Oymyakon is now a permanent settlement.
The village’s hardy inhabitants survive the winters, which drop to an average of -50C in January and February, largely by burning wood and coal for warmth.
The village sits 750 meters above sea level and the length of its days vary from three hours in December to 21 hours in summer.
Oymyakon is served by just the one shop and its solitary school only shuts if temperatures dip below -52C.
In 2016, adventurer and photographer, Amos Chapple, spent five winter weeks working in the Yakutia region and described its living environment as “exhausting”
But despite the extreme conditions, fish markets remain open, students go to school, people ride bikes and even go swimming.
Daily problems that come with living in Oymyakon include pen ink freezing, glasses freezing to people’s faces and batteries losing power. Locals are said to leave their cars running all day for fear of not being able to restart them.
Even if there was coverage for mobile phone reception the phones themselves would not work in such cold conditions.
Another problem caused by the frozen temperatures is burying dead bodies, which can take anything up to three days.
The earth must first be thawed sufficiently in order to dig it, so a bonfire is lit for a couple of hours. Hot coals are then pushed to the side and a hole a couple of inches deep is dug. The process is repeated for several days until the hole is deep enough to bury the coffin.
Nothing grows there so people eat reindeer meat and horsemeat. A single shop provides the town’s bare necessities and the locals work as reindeer-breeders, hunters and ice-fisherman.
Doctors say the reason the locals don’t suffer from malnutrition is that their animals’ milk contains a lot of micronutrients.
Unsurprisingly, locals are hardened to the weather and unlike in other countries – where a flurry of snow brings things grinding to a halt, Oymyakon’s solitary school only shuts if temperatures fall below -52C.
The village is located around 750 metres above sea level and the length of a day varies from 3 hours in December to 21 hours in the summer.
And despite its terrible winters, in June, July and August temperatures over 30c are not uncommon.
There are few modern conveniences in the village – with many buildings still having outdoor toilets. When coal deliveries are irregular the power station starts burning wood. If the power ceases, the town shuts down in about five hours, and the pipes freeze and crack.
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