The 2011 Japan tsunami: Images then and now

The 2011 tsunami in Japan killed nearly 16,000 people and spilled radioactive material at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Here are images comparing the region then and now.

A visual look at how the regions hardest hit by the disaster have recovered

Five years ago this week, Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake in its recorded history. 

The 9.0-magnitude quake off the country's northeast coast triggered a tsunami that washed deep inland, putting many towns underwater and causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with the subsequent release of radioactive material. 

Almost 16,000 people died as a result of the quake and tsunami, with another 2,500 people still labelled as missing. More than 150,000 were displaced from their homes.

  Rebuilding efforts in Japan continue to this day. Here's a comparative look at some of the northeastern towns hardest hit by the tsunami — Natori, Yamada, Kesennuma, Shinchi and Naraha — and the situation five years later.

Use the before-and-after slider below to see the difference between conditions immediately after the tsunami and today.