Fukushima, four years later

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You have that moment that you will never forget. So you probably know exactly where you were and what you did on September 11, 2001. On March 11, 2011, I lived in Japan when the Sendai Seaquake shook a large portion of the country at 2:46 PM.

My wife and I lived 600 kilometers from the epicenter and when we felt it, the television went on immediately. There were reports of an earthquake in northern Japan, but we could not believe that the quake we had just felt came from that far away. It soon dawned on us that it should have been a huge earthquake.

Tsunami

To make matters worse, it was also a seaquake, which meant that a tsunami was underway. About fifteen minutes after the quake, there were live images of water, lots of water that flowed through river beds in the wrong direction. There were helicopter images of a busy road, full of people trying to get away. A few hundred meters away, the water flowed at breakneck speed over the rice fields in the direction of the road. We could do nothing but watch helplessly. The following days, the terrible devastation that the tsunami had wrought was present everywhere 24 hours a day. Also with us in Osaka, 600 kilometers away from the disaster site.

Nuclear disaster in Fukushima

The reporting changed in the week after the disaster. It turned out that one of the nuclear power plants in the affected region was in the penarie. First there was an explosion, then a leak. An evacuation order follows. There were days when people were optimistic that the problem was almost solved. But that turned out to be apparent. A full meltdown was underway in the reactors of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

The evacuation area around the nuclear power plant was expanded to a circle with a radius of 30 kilometers. Until today, this zone is a prohibited area. The radiation level is far above what the human body can tolerate. There are a number of villages within the prohibited area. The inhabitants are allowed to enter the area for a few hours every once in a while, but they must certainly not stay too long. It will take tens of years before permanent residence can be resumed in the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Photos of the evacuation area

In September 2015, Polish photographer Arkadiusz Podniesiński visited the evacuation area. The villages have become ghost villages. Every photo shows that the inhabitants left headlong when all hell broke loose. The photos below are taken from the Podniesiński report.

All photos © Arkadiusz Podniesiński

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