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Google Street View releases images of abandoned town in Fukushima

Google Street View releases images of abandoned town in Fukushima

The disaster produced by the earthquake and tsunami around the Fukushima nuclear plant is now viewable through the photos taken by the Google’s Street View cars. The entire world and the remaining residents are able to see with their own eyes what has been left behind.

A couple of days ago, Namie, a deserted town in Fukushima, was visited by the Google’s Street View cars and a panorama of digital images was created. Google got permission to enter the restricted area after the nuclear meltdown of March 2011.

Google Street View of Namie
Fukushima disaster seen by Google Street View

In Namie, as in its twin ghost town, Pripyat, in Ukraine, all that is left are the abandoned streets, houses, shops, restaurants, schools, debris and some fishing boats carried by the waves.

However, if the pictures taken can clearly show the material damages, they cannot show the invisible and poisonous effects on the surviving inhabitants. Yes, this is true: although the area is restricted, some people are trying to get back to their homes, albeit this is a major health hazard.

It is impossible to comprehend what these people are going through, but if they have access to a computer connected to the internet, they should give Google Street View a chance. This way, they can see what has come to their town and how it looks a couple of years after the Fukushima disaster.

The pictures taken by Google Street View give access to original images

The mayor of the town initiated this virtual tour, which is significant since at first the government officials tried to conceal the spread of radioactivity. This is no longer the case and the only safe way to visit Namie is Google Street View.

Nuclear refugees, Fukushima area
Nuclear refugees visiting their homes

By being allowed to enter the restricted zone around the Daiichi plant, the Google cars were able to register a permanent record of what happened and give the remaining inhabitants a clue about the possibility of returning to their former homes. Probably, the older residents will die before coming back to their homes and the young ones will try to build new lives elsewhere.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has visited the area a couple of days ago and he is expected to give a timeframe for its restoration, which is difficult to do since the residential areas are still not decontaminated.

Google Street View has been launched in 2007 by Google related technology, Google Maps and Google Earth, and it provides 360-degree street-level imagery. Here is the resulting video shot through Namie.

A girl and a dog image by Andrej Vasilenko
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Google Street View releases images of abandoned town in Fukushima