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In pictures: Google's before and after images of Japan's earthquake and tsunami

The 11 March disasters killed over 15,000 people and completely destroyed over 100,000 buildings.

A ship stranded on dry land in Kesennuma by the March tsunami.
A ship stranded on dry land in Kesennuma by the March tsunami.
Image: Google Street View/Build the Memory

GOOGLE HAS unveiled its digital mapping project which has charted the areas of northern Japan worst affected by the 11 March 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami.

The natural disasters killed over 15,000 people, forced around 100,000 from their homes, and sparked a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as the facility’s cooling system shut down. Thousands of people remain unaccounted for.

Having driven over 44,000km around the region with its Street View cars and cameras, Google has compiled an online catalogue called Build the Memory containing 360-degree views of the area.

‘Before’ and ‘after’ tabs allow you to compare a portion of the region as it was and as it is now. The date the images were captured on is marked on the lower right corner of the pictures.

Google also invited people to share their own videos and photos of the affected areas, with the aim of helping people “rediscover lost memories of their homes and towns”.

Launching the site, Google said on its blog that it hopes the images “will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters”, as well as to historians, architects, city planners, tourists and tourism boards.

Here is a small selection of the before and after images from across the Miyagi Prefecture as viewed on Google’s Build the Memory site:

In pictures: Google's before and after images of Japan's earthquake and tsunami
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  • 1. Before

  • 1. After: Roadside buildings reduced to rubble.

  • 2. Before

  • 2. After

  • 3. Before

  • 3. After: The severe toll taken on a coastal area in north-eastern Japan.

  • 4. Before

  • 4. After: Whole buildings have been swept away by the March tsunami.

  • 5. Before

  • 5. After: Skeletal structures left behind by the powerful waves which completely cleared patches of the surrounding land.

  • 6. Before

  • 6. After

  • 7. Before

  • 7. After

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