Street View shows Tohoku tsunami, nuclear evacuation zones


New images from areas devastated by the tsunami of March 11, 2011, have been posted on Google’s Street View, allowing users to see how the disaster changed the area.

The images include pictures of towns and villages near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant where radiation levels are still too high for people to return.

They show a mixed picture of progress, with rebuilding well under way in some areas and nature reclaiming land in others.

Users can explore the region as it looked before the disaster and, in many cases, compare it with how it looked in the immediate aftermath and how it looks now.

Google is offering views of the deserted streets of 12 towns and villages in Fukushima Prefecture, including Futaba and Okuma, which host the crippled nuclear plant.

They include other evacuation zones, such as Iitate, Katsurao, Kawauchi, Naraha, Hirono and Minamisoma.

The newly updated street views were taken between April and August, a Google spokeswoman in Japan said.

The images are part of a project named “Memories for the Future,” which includes photos and movies uploaded by the general public.

More than 18,000 people died when the March 11 earthquake sent the tsunami barreling into the Tohoku region’s coastal areas.

Although no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of radiation from Fukushima No. 1, scientists warn some areas may remain contaminated for decades.

Google in March released panoramic views of Namie, a town located within the original 20-km exclusion zone around the plant.

The street views can be seen at