Shipyard workers in Siberia brave the bitter cold

Yakutia, Russia (Reuters) – A drone flies low over a snow-covered shipyard in Russia’s far east where workers toil in subzero temperatures to maintain massive ships during the harsh Siberian winter.

The “vymorozka” process, which roughly translates as “freezing”, is hard, painstaking work that takes weeks in some of the harshest conditions in the world, with temperatures dropping to minus 50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit).

Workers remove the ice surrounding the ships, looking for areas that need repair. Ships dock in the port of Yakutsk on the banks of the Lena River, Siberia’s economic lifeline in the summer, during the winter months.

Locals in Yakutia, Russia’s largest republic by area, call the Vemorozka job one of the hardest in the world, but the workers themselves say it’s all a matter of perspective.

“You dress the right way and that’s it,” worker Mikhail Klos (48 years old) told Reuters while taking a break from cutting clothes. “When you come (to a hot building) and take off your clothes, it’s like a sauna, steam comes out of you.” Ice chainsaw.

“I don’t think it’s the hardest job – there are jobs harder than that, but it’s probably one of the hardest jobs… One needs to try to understand, one needs to love the cold and work in it.”

The work requires not only stamina and strength, but also extreme precision.

Workers must be sure not to cut through the ice too quickly and penetrate the water below. If they did, the carved bunker could be flooded and the work would be lost.

The colder the weather, the better the ice freezes and the smoother the work, although the temperatures are harsh on some workers.

“Sometimes, when you freeze, you get negative emotions because of it,” 22-year-old Artyom Kovalik said from under a thick layer of coats, holding an ax in his hands.

“You feel like it’s too cold to work, and you want to go home to eat and relax, so you have to control yourself.”

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Ross Russell)

(Tags for translation)The most difficult jobs

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