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Pet Rescuers Venture Into Japan's Exclusion Zone

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Nearly a year after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that struck Japan, a 20-km (12-mi) radius exclusion zone remains in place around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Residents were evacuated quickly, leaving behind many things, including pets and livestock. Members of United Kennel Club Japan recently ventured into the zone to rescue abandoned dogs and cats that have been fending for themselves for months. The Japanese government recently said it would draw up new evacuation zones by the end of April, and that areas where annual radiation levels are currently higher than 50 millisieverts will not be deemed suitable for living for at least five years. Below are recent images from inside Japan's exclusion zone. The last six images are interactive: starting with number 29 click them to view a fading before/after comparison of Google Streetview images. [34 photos]

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Members of United Kennel Club Japan (UKC Japan) care for pets which were rescued from inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, at the group's pet shelter in Samukawa town, Kanagawa prefecture, on January 25, 2012. Dogs and cats that were abandoned in the Fukushima exclusion zone after last year's nuclear crisis have had to survive high radiation and a lack of food, and they are now struggling with the region's freezing winter weather. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11 triggered the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and forced residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to flee, with many of them having to leave behind their pets. (Reuters/Issei Kato)
Members of United Kennel Club Japan (UKC Japan) care for pets which were rescued from inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, at the group's pet shelter in Samukawa town, Kanagawa prefecture, on January 25, 2012. Dogs and cats that were abandoned in the Fukushima exclusion zone after last year's nuclear crisis have had to survive high radiation and a lack of food, and they are now struggling with the region's freezing winter weather. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11 triggered the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and forced residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to flee, with many of them having to leave behind their pets. (Reuters/Issei Kato)
A sign above a shopping district reads "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future", at the entrance of Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit on March 11, 2011 by a tsunami that exceeded 15 meters 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. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Cows that escaped from a farm cross the street in the town of Tomioka, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
United Kennel Club Japan (UKC Japan) Representative Director Yasunori Hoso speaks in front of a destroyed house in Namie town, inside the nuclear exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A dog is rescued by members of United Kennel Club Japan (UKC Japan) in Namie town, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on December 25, 2011. (Reuters/UKC Japan) #
Tsunami-destroyed houses in Ukedo district, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture, on January 28, 2012. More than 150,000 people from Fukushima prefecture continue to live in shelters, nearly half of them from the no-go zone. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
An ostrich that escaped from a farm walks past a car in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
An empty shopping street in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
An abandoned child's bicycle, its chain rusting, sits in front of houses destroyed by the tsunami in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Cows that are escaped from a farm approach the photographer on a street in Namie town, inside the exclusion zone, on December 25, 2011. (Reuters/UKC Japan) #
Weeds grow from cracks in the pavement near a petrol station on Route 6 in Tomioka town, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A resident, wearing a protective suit, makes a brief visit the home he was evacuated from, in Namie town, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Dolls of the "Seven Gods of Good Fortune", inside a house damaged by last year's earthquake in Namie town, Japan, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A resident wearing a protective suit holds the cremated remains of his father, who fell sick and died during their evacuated life last September, during a brief visit to the home they were evacuated from, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Cars and a ship destroyed by the tsunami rest in Ukedo district in Namie town, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
An evacuated resident in protective wear checks radiation levels (85.1 microsieverts per hour) in a gutter near a factory in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A cow that escaped from a farm is removed from a highway by members of United Kennel Club Japan in Namie town, on December 25, 2011. (Reuters/UKC Japan) #
A cat plays with the camera in a pet shelter run by United Kennel Club Japan in Samukawa town, Kanagawa prefecture, on January 25, 2012. The cat was rescued from Okuma town inside the nuclear exclusion zone. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Dogs, rescued from Japan's nuclear exclusion zone, bark inside cages at United Kennel Club Japan's pet shelter in Samukawa town, on January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A rescued cat, labeled "OK", sits inside a cage at a pet shelter run by United Kennel Club Japan in Kanagawa prefecture, on January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A dog rescued from the exclusion zone by United Kennel Club Japan, photographed on January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Rescued cats in a pet shelter run by United Kennel Club Japan in Kanagawa prefecture, on January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
The ashes of cats who died after being rescued from the Fukushima exclusion zone are placed in urns at the United Kennel Club Japan's pet shelter in Samukawa town, on January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
Weeds grow through the tracks of the Joban line railway near Futaba station in Futaba town, inside the nuclear exclusion zone, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Houses destroyed by the 2011 tsunami, in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, on January 15, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A temple destroyed by the 2011 earthquake, in Namie town, near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A book titled "Life and Death" lies inside a house destroyed by the tsunami in Namie town, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
An empty shopping street in Namie town, inside the 20-km (12-mile) radius nuclear exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on January 28, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A "before" Google Streetview image of Natori, located in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, taken in 2008. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #
A "before" Google Streetview image from Kesennuma, in northeastern Miyagi Prefecture, taken in 2008. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #
A "before" image from near the resort town of Minamisanriku. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene after the earthquake and tsunami. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #
A "before" image from near the town of Minamisanriku. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene after the earthquake and tsunami. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #
Ishinomaki, in Miyagi Prefecture, seen in a "before" image. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene after the earthquake and tsunami. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #
Houses in Miyagi Prefecture, before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck. Click on the image to see it fade to the same scene afterward. From Google's Memories for the Future project. [click image to view transition] (© Google) #

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