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March 2, 2012
Tsunami pictures - Then and Now
It has been nearly one year since a monstrous earthquake triggered a tsunami that roared across Japan's coast on March 11, 2011, transforming once-pristine and thriving towns into waterlogged wastelands and sparking the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century.
In the last 12 months, some progress has been made in rebuilding lives, but much remains unfinished. Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder, who chronicled the devastated towns in the aftermath of the disaster, has revisited these communities to see what has changed -- and what hasn't.

(12 images)



In this combination photo, a ship washed away by the tsunami sits in a destroyed residential neighborhood in Kesennuma, northeastern Japan, on March 28, 2011, top, and the same ship sits on the same spot on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. A year after an earthquake and tsunami ravaged the country's coastline and killed around 19,000 people, many of the boats carried inland by the wall of water have been removed. But some, like this one, remain - providing a stark reminder of nature's fearsome power. AP / David Guttenfelder


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In this combination photo, Japanese vehicles pass through the ruins of the leveled city of Minamisanriku, Japan, on March 15, 2011, top, four days after the tsunami, and vehicles pass through the same area on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. A year after the earthquake and tsunami killed around 19,000 people across Japan and leveled this town, there are hints of progress - the main roads are free of debris, and some temporary houses have been built. But many in Minamisanriku, and elsewhere across Japan's battered coastline, remain in a hellish state of limbo. AP / David Guttenfelder



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In this combination photo, two people walk along a street in a residential neighborhood in Onagawa, northeastern Japan, on March 19, 2011, top, eight days after the March 11 tsunami, and two people walk on the same spot on Wed., Feb. 22, 2012. A year after the disaster that killed around 19,000 people, much of the debris that littered the streets of this fishing town has been cleared. But the task of rebuilding homes and lives has barely begun. AP / David Guttenfelder



then_and_now_0302_04.jpg
In this combination photo, Tayo Kitamura, 40, kneels in the street to caress and talk to the wrapped body of her mother Kuniko Kitamura, 69, after Japanese firemen discovered the dead body in the ruins of her home in Onagawa, Japan, on March 19, 2011, top, and a newly built home sits at the site of the now-cleared but destroyed area on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. A few homes have been rebuilt in the year since an earthquake and tsunami roared across Japan's coastline, killing 19,000 people. But most communities remain unrecognizable, and their residents' futures uncertain. AP / David Guttenfelder



then_and_now_0302_05.jpg
In this combination photo, Japanese residents of Kesennuma, northeastern Japan, pass through a road that was cleared by bulldozer through the ruins of the city on March 17, 2011, six days after the tsunami, top, and people cross the same street on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. One year after a powerful tsunami battered Japan and killed around 19,000 people, the streets have been cleared and the wreckage removed from town centers. But the process of destroying all that debris has been slow, with much of it still sitting in huge mountains in temporary holding areas. AP / David Guttenfelder



then_and_now_0302_06.jpg
In this combination photo, a Japanese survivor of the earthquake and tsunami rides his bicycle through the leveled city of Minamisanriku, Japan, on March 15, 2011, top, and a car drives through the same spot on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. It has been one year since a huge earthquake and tsunami smashed Japan's coastline, killed around 19,000 people, and left more than half of Minamisanriku's residents dead or homeless. But while the streets are free of rubble, rebuilding has barely begun - leaving those who remain anxious about what the future holds. AP / David Guttenfelder



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