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Fukushima five years on: Haunting images show how region devastated by tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster is still slowly recovering

  • Earthquake and tsunami killed 18,000 people and left many unable to return to their homes in March 2011
  • Triple meltdown at Fukushima I nuclear power plant was worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 
  • Natori city, once a thriving farming town home to 74,000 people, was erased off the map by the 10m-high waves 
  • Residents were allowed to return to Nahara town, near Fukushima, only last October for fears of the radiations

These haunting images show Japanese cities devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the north-east coast in 2011, killing more than 18,000 people.

The disaster left many still unable to return to their homes and triggered a meltdown at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in what turned out to be the worst nuclear accident since Cernobyl.

As Japan prepares to mark five years since the tragedy, the pictures provide a priceless testimony to the death and destruction that struck the country.

Natori city, once a thriving farming town home to 74,000 people, was erased off the map by the 10m-high waves, whose catastrophic images reverberated around the world.

Flooded areas, debris and burning houses gave way to emptiness and desolation.

Naraha town, near the Fukushima plant, was evacuated following the disaster that sent the plant’s reactor into triple meltdowns in March 2011.

The town’s 7,400 residents were prevented from going home for four and half years since the accident. Only in October 2015 Japan’s government lifted a ban meaning people from the town could return to their home for the first time since the disaster.

The central government said radiation levels in Naraha have fallen to levels deemed safe following decontamination efforts. About 100,000 people from about 10 municipalities around the wrecked plant still cannot go home.

After the nuclear disaster, both Japanese and global media struggled to communicate the consequences of damage done at the nuclear plant.

It was reported that three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors went into meltdown and released radioactive materials. The soil and water in the region still contains high levels of radiation which makes the clean-up effort difficult, according to reports.

A total of 300,000 people evacuated the Fukushima


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