On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a powerful tsunami that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres, travelling up to 10 kilometres inland, causing massive devastation. Three years later, the Japanese government puts the number of dead at 15,884, with 2,636 still missing.

To mark the third anniversary, IBTimesUK publishes 30 powerful photos that tell the story of the disaster.

tsunami gas
March 11, 2011: Natural gas storage tanks burn at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city, Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, after a huge earthquakeReuters
tsunami wave
March 11, 2011: The wave from a tsunami crashes over a street in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck the areaReuters
tsunami houses burn
March 11, 2011: Burning houses are swept out to sea following a tsunami and earthquake in Natori CityReuters
tsunami wave
March 11, 2011: A massive tsunami engulfs a residential area in Natori, Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami reporter
March 11, 2011: Toya Chiba, a reporter for local newspaper Iwate Tokai Shimbun, is swept away by a tsunami at Kamaishi port, Iwate prefecture. Chiba managed to survive by grabbing a dangling rope and climbing onto a coal heap around eight metres high after being swept away for about 30 metresReuters
tsunami sendai
March 11, 2011: Sendai Airport is flooded after a tsunami swept away everything in its pathReuters
tsunami planes
March 11, 2011: Cars and planes swept away by a tsunami are pictured among debris at Sendai AirportReuters
tsunami buildings
March 12, 2011: Buildings tossed together by the tsunami are seen in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern JapanReuters
tsunami cars
March 12, 2011: Burned-out cars are pictured at Hitachi Harbour in Ibaraki Prefecture in northeastern JapanReuters
tsunami rescue
March 12, 2011: People in a floating container are rescued from a building following an earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern JapanReuters
tsunami aerial
March 12, 2011: A picture taken from a Japan Ground Self-Defence Force helicopter shows the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, a day after it was flattened by massive tsunamiReuters
tsunami train
March 12, 2011: The wreckage of a train destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami is seen near the coastal town of SendaiReuters
tsunami woman
March 13, 2011: A woman looks at the damage caused by a tsunami and an earthquake in Ishimaki City, Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami girl
March 13, 2011: A woman cries while sitting on a road amid the destroyed city of Natori, Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami house sea
March 13, 2011: A home is seen adrift in the Pacific OceanReuters
tsunami radiation
March 13, 2011: Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plantReuters
tsunami ship
March 13, 2011: Someone walks past an overturned squid-fishing boat tossed onto land by a tsunami in Hachinohe City, Aomori PrefectureReuters
tsunami survivor sea
March 13, 2011: Sixty-year-old survivor Hiromitsu Shinkawa, who was swept out to sea by a tsunami, is rescued by crew members of a Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force vessel, about 15km off the coast of FukushimaReuters
tsunami devastation
March 14, 2011: Rescue workers search for victims in Nodamura village, Iwate PrefectureReuters
March 14, 2011: A Japan Self-Defence Forces officer smiles as he holds a four-month-old baby girl who was rescued along with her family members from their home in Ishimaki City, Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami bike
March 14, 2011: A survivor pushes his bicycle through remains of devastated town of Otsuchi, where 12,000 out of a population of 15,000 disappearedReuters
tsunami dog
March 14, 2011: A girl who who was isolated at a makeshift facility to screen people with high radiation levels looks at her dog through a window in NihonmatsuReuters
tsunami plane
March 14, 2011: Officers look at a Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force which was swept by the tsunami into a building at Matsushima base in Higashimatsushima, Iwate PrefectureReuters
tsunami snow
March 17, 2011: A man cries next to his destroyed house where his dead mother is still buried in the rubble in Onagawa town in Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami house
March 19, 2011: Emergency workers search through debris near the seaside in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefectureReuters
tsunami train carriage
March 21, 2011: A train carriage lies in a heavily damaged cemetery in Onagawa, Miyagi PrefectureReuters
tsunami fukushima
March 24, 2011: An aerial view of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power StationReuters
tsunami bicycle
March 31, 2011: A woman rides her bicycle past a boat in the rubble in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, 20 days after the area was devastated by the earthquake and tsunamiReuters
tsunami boat
April 3, 2011: The Hamayuri, a catamaran sightseeing boat, sits atop a two-storey building among tsunami debris in Ostuchi, Iwate PrefectureGetty
tsunami ship
April 11, 2011: A car is driven past a ship named Asia Symphony that was swept ashore by the March 2011 tsunami at a fishing port in Kamaishi, Iwate prefectureReuters