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Pictures | Tue Jan 17, 2012 | 3:45pm EST

Fukushima ghost towns

<p>An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone of a 20km radius around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit on March 11, 2011 by a tsunami that exceeded 15 metres in some areas. The tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns of nuclear fuel, and became the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years. The government announced in December that reactors at the plant had reached a state of cold shutdown, a milestone in cleanup efforts and a pre-condition for allowing the return of about 80,000 residents evacuated from a 20km (12 miles) radius of the Daiichi plant. The government also said it would draw up new evacuation zones by the end of April, and areas where annual radiation levels are currently higher than 50 millisieverts would not be deemed suitable for living for at least five years.  REUTERS/Stringer </p>

An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone of a 20km radius around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit on March...more

An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone of a 20km radius around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit on March 11, 2011 by a tsunami that exceeded 15 metres in some areas. The tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns of nuclear fuel, and became the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years. The government announced in December that reactors at the plant had reached a state of cold shutdown, a milestone in cleanup efforts and a pre-condition for allowing the return of about 80,000 residents evacuated from a 20km (12 miles) radius of the Daiichi plant. The government also said it would draw up new evacuation zones by the end of April, and areas where annual radiation levels are currently higher than 50 millisieverts would not be deemed suitable for living for at least five years. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>An abandoned child's bicycle and houses destroyed by the tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer </p>

An abandoned child's bicycle and houses destroyed by the tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

An abandoned child's bicycle and houses destroyed by the tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>An empty shopping street, under a sign reading "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future", is seen at the entrance of Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

An empty shopping street, under a sign reading "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future", is seen at the entrance of Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012....more

An empty shopping street, under a sign reading "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future", is seen at the entrance of Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Road cracks caused by an earthquake are seen in an empty shopping street in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Road cracks caused by an earthquake are seen in an empty shopping street in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Road cracks caused by an earthquake are seen in an empty shopping street in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A destroyed fishing boat and car swept away by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A destroyed fishing boat and car swept away by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A destroyed fishing boat and car swept away by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A house destroyed by the 2011 tsunami is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A house destroyed by the 2011 tsunami is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A house destroyed by the 2011 tsunami is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A weed is seen growing out of the cracks at a petrol station on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A weed is seen growing out of the cracks at a petrol station on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A weed is seen growing out of the cracks at a petrol station on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A view of Tomioka town which is inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A view of Tomioka town which is inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A view of Tomioka town which is inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A fallen sign at a petrol station which reads "Next Sunday is Non-Business Day" is seen on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A fallen sign at a petrol station which reads "Next Sunday is Non-Business Day" is seen on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A fallen sign at a petrol station which reads "Next Sunday is Non-Business Day" is seen on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

An empty shopping street is seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A games arcade destroyed by the 2011 earthquake is seen along Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A games arcade destroyed by the 2011 earthquake is seen along Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A games arcade destroyed by the 2011 earthquake is seen along Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>The empty Route 6 is seen in the Chojahara district of Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

The empty Route 6 is seen in the Chojahara district of Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

The empty Route 6 is seen in the Chojahara district of Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Weeds are seen on the tracks of the Joban line railway near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Weeds are seen on the tracks of the Joban line railway near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Weeds are seen on the tracks of the Joban line railway near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A herd of cows which escaped from a livestock farm walk in a field in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A herd of cows which escaped from a livestock farm walk in a field in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A herd of cows which escaped from a livestock farm walk in a field in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A road sign which reads "Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station" is seen in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A road sign which reads "Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station" is seen in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A road sign which reads "Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station" is seen in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Fallen gravestones are seen at a cemetery in Namie town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Fallen gravestones are seen at a cemetery in Namie town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Fallen gravestones are seen at a cemetery in Namie town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>A destroyed crossing bar on the Joban line railway is seen near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

A destroyed crossing bar on the Joban line railway is seen near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

A destroyed crossing bar on the Joban line railway is seen near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Abandoned wheelchairs are seen outside Okuma Town Health Center in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Abandoned wheelchairs are seen outside Okuma Town Health Center in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Abandoned wheelchairs are seen outside Okuma Town Health Center in Okuma town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Houses destroyed by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Houses destroyed by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Houses destroyed by the 2011 tsunami are seen in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>An ostrich which had escaped from a farm walks past a car in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, January 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer </p>

An ostrich which had escaped from a farm walks past a car in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

An ostrich which had escaped from a farm walks past a car in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

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