Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Inside Fukushima Dai-ichi Exclusion Zone

In June, National Geographic sent AP photographer David Guttenfelder into the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, which was badly damaged in the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. He captured images of communities that had become ghost towns, with pets and farm animals roaming the streets. 

Later, in November, Guttenfelder returned to photograph the crippled reactor facility itself as members of the media were allowed inside for the first time since the triple disaster last March. In some places, the reactor buildings appear to be little more than heaps of twisted metal and crumbling concrete. Tens of thousands of area residents remain displaced, with little indication of when, or if, they may ever return to their homes. 

Collected here are some images from these trips.

After the disasters of March 11, tens of thousands were ordered to leave their homes in the vicinity of the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, some of their footprints now frozen in the mud. (© David Guttenfelder /National Geographic) 

Two dogs scrap on Okuma's empty streets. In the early days of the crisis the no-go zone was alive with roaming farm animals and pets: cows, pigs, goats, dogs, cats, even ostriches. Often defying police patrols and barricades, volunteer rescuers rounded up and decontaminated some pets, returning them to their owners, and fed others. But by midsummer, a number of the pets had perished of starvation and disease. (© David Guttenfelder/National Geographic)  

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