The Towns Around Fukushima Power Plant Look Like A Post-Apocalyptic Nightmare [PHOTOS]

In March 2011, one of the most devastating earthquakes on record hit Japan, setting off a chain reaction that included a tsunami and a disastrous nuclear power plant meltdown. The Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant disaster was the largest Nuclear incident since Chernobyl and caused radiation leakage that has lasted to this day.

The plant is still not stable.

Hundreds of thousands of residents living within 12 miles of the plant were evacuated. Some residents, not wanting leave their homes, chose to stay in the abandoned areas.

Since the disaster, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the Daiichi Plant, have taken on one of the largest and most ambitious clean up efforts ever.

Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj returned to the evacuated towns last month to capture what happens to a place after a catastrophic disaster.

The sign reads 'Nuclear Power -- The Energy for a Better Future.' After the disaster, the Japanese government evacuated the 160,000 people in the towns surrounding the Daichi Power Plant.

A security barrier blocks the road into the exclusion zone near the tsunami-crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A red light is seen in front of damaged house in the evacuated town of Namie. 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.

In the kitchen of a damaged house, a clock shows the time of March 11, 2011, the day of the earthquake.

Wild flowers and other vegetation grow over a train line in Namie.

Almost all the beaches in Fukushima prefectures remain closed since the disaster in 2011. In July this year, Tokyo Electric Power admitted that hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater may be flowing out to the sea every day.

This abandoned farm is at the edge of the exclusion zone at the coastal area near Minamisoma, a partially evacuated city.

Copies of Fukushima Minpo newspapers are dated a day after the 2011 earthquake with headlines 'M(magnitude) 8.8, largest in the country.'

Mieko Okubo, 59, is in the room where her father-in-law, 102-year old Fumio Okubo, committed suicide. When authorities ordered evacuation, Fumio couldn't bear to leave the house he'd lived in for all of his life.

Keigo Sakamoto, 58, holds Atom, one of his 21 dogs and over 500 animals he keeps at his home in the exclusion zone. Sakamoto, a former caregiver and farmer, takes care of the animals with donations and support from outside Fukushima.

Despite government orders, Naoto Matsumura, 53, never left the town of Tomioka and now lives alone with his 50 cows, two cats, a dog, a pony horse, and two ostriches. He has made it his mission to take care of the animals left behind, even though they no longer can be sold due to their exposure to radiation.

Noboru (L) and Nagako Harada travel everyday back to Namie to take care of their 30 cows even though they no longer can be sold. 'Cows are my family. I don't want to kill them, I don't know what to do,' said Norobu.

Before the nuclear disaster, more than half of fish offered at this market was from local fishermen. Now none of it comes from the Fukushima prefecture. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research.

A Buddhist monk wearing a Geiger counter (which measures radiation) leads a small funeral ceremony for Yotsuno Kanno, at a cemetery in the evacuated town of Minamitsushima. Kanno died in temporary accommodation this past May, two weeks short of her 100th birthday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says children in Fukushima may have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer after the Daiichi nuclear disaster. A non-profit organisation now offers free thyroid examination for children from the Fukushima area.

People wear face masks as they visit the graves of their relatives at a cemetery damaged by the earthquake in Tomioka.

Temporary housing structures have been erected for workers battling the disaster.

The most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted has proved costly and time-consuming since it began 2 years ago. It may also fail. Most of the contaminated debris (seen here collected in plastic bags) remains piled up in driveways and empty lots because of fierce opposition from local communities to storing it in one place.

The level of radiation is seen near the abandoned civic centre in Namie.

A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area.

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