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Google Street View takes former residents on virtual tour inside Japan nuclear zone

Google via AP

A screenshot made from the Google Maps website shows stranded ships left as a testament to the power of the tsunami which hit the area, near a road in Namie, Japan.

Google via AP

A crushed building in Namie, a nuclear no-go zone where former residents have been unable to live since they fled from radioactive contamination near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant two years ago.

Google via AP

Google's camera-equipped vehicle moves through Namie in a photo released on March 27, 2013 and taken earlier in the month.

Crumpled homes, abandoned shops, empty streets. The town of Namie has lain virtually untouched since its residents were evacuated two years ago, following the accident at the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant.

On Wednesday they were able to see their town again thanks to Google, which began offering glimpses of Namie on its Street View service. The town's mayor, Tamotsu Baba, invited Google to document the current state of Namie after receiving numerous requests from constituents who wanted a reminder of their home town.

Although some restrictions on entering the town have been lifted, Namie's 21,000 former residents have not yet been allowed to return to live there due to the still-high levels of radiation.

In a message posted on the Google website, the mayor said he hoped that sharing the images with the rest of the world would serve as a reminder of the consequences of a nuclear accident.


Nuclear refugees visit their home near stricken Fukushima plant

Fukushima: Before, during and after

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone


Google via AP

Google via AP