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Japan Earthquake: Six Months Later

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Yesterday, the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, but Sunday had another significance for Japan. It marked six months since the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, a date now seared in the country's national consciousness. At 2:46 that afternoon, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan offshore, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 meters (33 ft) that engulfed large parts of northeastern Japan and also damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis in decades. The current number of dead and missing is estimated to be 22,900. Gathered here are some recent images from the region, including 12 before-and-after photo pairs (starting with photo number two) that you can click to see the difference six months can make. [34 photos]

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Wakana Kumagai, age 6, prays at 2:46 p.m., when Japan marked the passing of exactly six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture, on September 11, 2011. Kumagai prayed at the spot where the car of her father, who was killed by the tsunami, was found. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)
Wakana Kumagai, age 6, prays at 2:46 p.m., when Japan marked the passing of exactly six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture, on September 11, 2011. Kumagai prayed at the spot where the car of her father, who was killed by the tsunami, was found. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)
A before-and-after pair of photos of the city of Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, in flames on March 11, 2011 (before), after the massive earthquake, and the aftermath of the same area taken on September 1, 2011 (click to view) by Kyodo and released on September 7, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kyodo) #
A pair of views of Kesennuma prior to the sixth month anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and massive tsunami on September 10, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (Before) Local residents walk among debris on March 31, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. [click image to view transition] (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images) #
A pair of photos shows a ship in a devastated area of Kesennuma on March 17, 2011 and later on August 12, 2011 following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that stuck the area on March 11, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files) #
People ride onthe same road in an area in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, on March 13, 2011 (before), and the same scene on September 9, 2011 (click to view), some six months after the disaster. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A replica of the Statue of Liberty in an area destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 4, 2011 (before), and the same scene on September 10, 2011 (click to view). [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Carlos Barria [before] and Toru Hanai [after]) #
An area affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan on March 13, 2011 (before) and the same area on September 9, 2011 (click to view). [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
Damage in Rikuzentakata on April 2, 2011 (before) and the same scene cleared of debris on August 14, 2011 (click to view), following the devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the area on March 11, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Damir Sagolj/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
A street in Kesennuma on March 17, 2011 (before) and August 12, 2011 (click to view) following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the area on March 11, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
An area of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, March 16, 2011 (before) after the area was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and its aftermath taken September 1, 2011, (click to view), taken by Kyodo and released September 7, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kyodo) #
A view of Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture, after the massive earthquake, tsunami, and the aftermath taken by Kyodo on March 14, 2011, (before), and September 1, 2011 (click to view). [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kyodo) #
A general view of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on March 24, 2011 (before), and on September 10, 2011 (click to view). [click image to view transition] (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images) #
A destroyed shop in Otsuchi on March 15, 2011 (before) and on August 13, 2011 (click to view), following the earthquake and tsunami that struck the area on March 11, 2011. [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Aly Song/Files/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
Soma city residents release lantern balloons during the "Tento" event to pray for victims of the March 11 tsunami in the city of Soma, Fukushima prefecture, on September 10, 2011. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images) #
People attend a memorial service for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi prefecture September 11, 2011. The banner reads: "Great East Japan Earthquake victims - Minamisanriku town Memorial Service." (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A volunteer lights a candle by a damaged replica of the Statue of Liberty during an event to pay tribute to victims of both the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the March 11 earthquake in Ishinomaki, northeastern Japan, on September 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae) #
A devastated area is seen prior to the sixth month anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and massive tsunami on September 10, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images) #
Katsuju Okata holds up a picture of his restaurant taken before it was destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, as he stands in front of what remains of the structure, in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on September 11, 2011. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
Cars crushed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami are collected in a lot in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, on September 7, 2011. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A worker walks past the grounded cargo ship Asia Symphony, which was pushed onto the harbor wall in Kamaishi port by the tsunami of March 11, in Kamaishi, on August 24, 2011. Efforts to remove the Panama registered 4,724-ton freighter will be finished this October when it is returned to the sea by a marine crane, following repairs. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images) #
Buildings destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, seen on September 7, 2011. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Divers of Japan Coast Guard continue the search for remains of victims at sea in an area that was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture, on September 9, 2011. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A crow flies over a pile of tsunami debris in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on September 11, 2011. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
An aerial view of houses damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa town, Miyagi prefecture, on September 7, 2011. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Students wear masks at an elementary school outside of the 20-km (12 mi) radius zone from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on September 8, 2011. A line dividing the no-go zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant and the area deemed safe from radiation cuts right across this coastal city but the "good" part is starting to look very much like the ghost town on the other side. Six months after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake unleashed a deadly tsunami that triggered meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Tokyo Electric Power's complex, Minami Soma, a city just a half an hour's drive away, struggles to stay alive. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, Naoto Matsumura calls on cows in Tomioka town, Fukushima, northeastern Japan. Later, Matsumura, who routinely drives around the town to feed wandering animals, said he forgot to bring food for them. Nearly six months after Japan's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, the 53-year-old believes he is the only inhabitant left in this town sandwiched between the doomed Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station to the north and another sprawling nuclear plant to the south. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae) #
A child rides a tricycle at a temporary housing center for tsunami survivors in Rikuzentakata, in northeast Japan, on September 6, 2011. Almost six months after the tsunami all survivors have been moved out of shelters and into temporary housing. (AP Photo/Greg Baker) #
An aerial view of Onagawa town that was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in Miyagi prefecture, on September 7, 2011. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A man cycles on the tsunami-damaged main street in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, on September 9, 2011. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
Kanako Abe, living in Tokyo, prays for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at a devastated area in Otsuchicho, north of Japan August 13, 2011, during Japan's annual Buddhist ceremony Obon that welcomes back the spirits of the dead. Abe returned to her hometown for the ceremony. In Otsuchicho, more 1,400 are either dead or missing due to the March natural disaster. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
A truck drives past an devastated area prior to the sixth month anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and massive tsunami on September 10, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images) #
A Buddhist monk pays respect to the victims of March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in front of the ruined disaster control center of Minamisanriku town, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on September 11, 2011. The facility destroyed by the tsunami became a place to remember the disaster after its 20 staff members, including a young woman who had been urging residents to flee from the tsunami through a public-address system until the last moment, were washed away and killed. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) #
Piles of cars destroyed by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in a devastated area in Rikuzentakata, Japan, on August 14, 2011. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
Wakana Kumagai, age 6, smiles as she looks at a camera in front of a portrait and an urn containing ashes of her father Kazuyuki, who was killed by the March 11 tsunami, in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture on September 11, 2011. Kazuyuki had called his wife Yoshiko just after the March 11 earthquake to tell her to take their children to Omagari elementary school which was serving as a shelter. He was found near the shelter four days after the tsunami, Yoshiko said. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #

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