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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

Last updated on: October 11, 2013 08:46 IST

Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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It’s been more than two years since a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, resulting in a meltdown that became the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

About 160,000 people living near the plant were ordered to move out and the government established a 20-km compulsory evacuation zone.

The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to contain contaminated water at the site 240 km north of Tokyo.

In July this year, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), a company that runs the crippled Daiichi plant reversed months of denials and admitted that hundreds of tonnes of groundwater that has mixed with radioactive material may be flowing out to the sea every day.

We bring forth some photographs of the present day Fukushima prefecture, once full of life like any other town, now just a gloomy shadow of its past -- each photo a grim reminder of the irreversible catastrophe.

Opening photograph: A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

Namie's more than 20,000 former residents can visit their homes once a month with special permissions but are not allowed to stay overnight inside the exclusion zone. A total of 160,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around Daiichi plant after the government announced the evacuation following the nuclear disaster in March 2011.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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A vending machine, brought inland by a tsunami, is seen in an abandoned rice field inside the exclusion zone at the coastal area near Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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Mieko Okubo, 59, poses with a portrait of her father-in-law Fumio Okubo next to his jacket in his room where he committed suicide in the evacuated town of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture.

Fumio, a 102-year-old farmer hanged himself in the house he lived in all his life after authorities ordered evacuation from the area following the nuclear disaster at the tsunami-crippled Daiichi power plant.

Mieko, who lives outside the exclusion zone, comes back every other day to feed Fumio's dog and clean the house. She said Fumio committed suicide because he just could not stand to end his life somewhere else.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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Waves break into the anti-tsunami barriers as a typhoon hits the area near the Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

Almost all the beaches in Fukushima prefectures remain closed since March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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Traditional shoes are left in an abandoned civic centre at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture only some 6 kilometers from the crippled Daiichi power plant.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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A clock shows the time of March 11, 2011 earthquake at the kitchen of a damaged house in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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The beach is littered with tsunami barriers, wreckages of cars and other debris at coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie near the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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An elderly woman leans against the damaged grave of her relative as she visits the cemetery at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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Vegetation grows over a house damaged in 2011 earthquake in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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A twisted clock, spiders webs and debris are seen from inside a damaged primary school at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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A control panel of public address system is seen inside damaged primary school at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Light and power lines from the tsunami-crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant as seen from Route 6 near the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Heart-rending photos: The ghosts of Fukushima

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Portraits hang from the wall of an abandoned and damaged house in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Keigo Sakamoto, 58, holds Atom, one of his 21 dogs and over 500 animals he keeps at his home, in the exclusion zone near Naraha in Fukushima prefecture.

Sakamoto, a former caregiver and farmer who refused to leave the exclusion zone around the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant, decided to name his dog Atom because it was born just before the 2011 disaster.

With donations and support from outside Fukushima, Sakamoto lives with his animals of which many were abandoned by previous owners as they left the exclusion zone.

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Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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A woman, who came for a brief visit to her home, walks under a sign reading "Nuclear Power -- The Energy for a Better Future", at the entrance of the empty Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture.

Decades ago, the citizens of Japan's Futaba town took such pride in hosting part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex that they built a sign over a promenade proclaiming that atomic power made their town prosperous. Now, they are scattered around Japan with no clear sign of when they might return to their homes.

 


Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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