Eerie photos show abandoned houses in nuclear no-go zone 10 years after disaster

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These eerie pictures show the nuclear no-go zone 10 years on from the catastrophic tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown.

Thursday marks a decade since the worst natural disaster in Japan's living memory after a powerful earthquake and deadly tsunami struck 230 northeast of the capital Tokyo. It led to a number of nuclear accidents.

The most notable was at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which blanketed nearby areas with radiation, making towns in the area uninhabitable for years and displacing thousands of residents.

The natural disaster traumatised a nation and left 18,500 people dead, and creepy pictures from inside the exclusion zone in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, show dirty dishes filling a sink at a church and abandoned cars.

Shoes and children's boots gather dust on the doorstep of a home in Futaba, another of the towns deserted after the disaster which destroyed tens of thousands of homes and buildings.

Cars are seen covered in vines and thick grass as people left behind everything they owned and fled for their lives.

These are the abandoned relics of a time before entire neighbourhoods were evacuated and declared no-go zones. Residents will likely never return due to the radiation.

The former lives of residents have been captured in some poignant photographs to mark the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy.

In devastating scenes this week, there were searches in the regions of Miyagi and Fukushima for those still missing as desperate loved ones refuse to let go of the hope of finding them a decade on from the disaster.

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While the chances appear slim, last week the remains of a woman missing since the devastating tsunami were identified, with her son describing it as a chance to process his emotions and move forward.

The tragedy began when a mammoth 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck at 2.46pm local time on March 11, 2011, triggering waves up to 40m high that destroyed everything in their path when they crossed the shoreline and continued for 10km.

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Nayuta Ganbe, in Miyagi's Sendai city, said: "I had never wanted to think about the disaster, not on March 11.

"It's the day when I lost my classmates. People died before my eyes.

"March 11 is a day that I hoped would never come again, so it always pains me when March 11 comes around every year.

"I am hoping that I will be able to face the disaster with a new perspective exactly 10 years on."

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Reverend Akira Sato, who ministered at several churches that remain in no-go areas around the Fukushima plant, plans to visit one of the abandoned churches and reflect.

He said: "Together with my wife, I will silently think back over the days of the disaster and offer a prayer."

One survivor told how he clung onto a tree as the water rose around him, flooding the roads below.

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Kenichi Kurosawa wrapped his legs around a branch and hung on for his life in the coastal city of Ishinomaki.

He said: "I felt like the ocean was all around me. The water was so cold it chilled me to the bone.

"It's hard to imagine the power of a tsunami unless you've experienced it — it's a destructive force that just swallows everything up and obliterates everything in its path."

The nuclear disaster that followed the tsunami was the worst such incident since the infamous Chernobyl disaster in what is now Ukraine in 1986.

More than 35,000 people remained displaced 10 years on from the original meltdown.

The cleanup is likely to take decades and cost billions of pounds.

Despite the decontamination efforts, a survey conducted by a Japanese university last year found 65% of evacuees no longer wanted to return to the area with some fearing residual contamination of the environment and others having settled elsewhere.

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