On 11 March 2011, an earthquake hit Japan with a magnitude of 9.0 – the biggest in the nation's recorded history and one of the five most powerful recorded ever around the world. Within an hour of the earthquake, towns which lined the shore were flattened by a massive tsunami, caused by the energy released by the earthquake. With waves of up to four or five metres high, they crashed through civilians homes, towns and fields.

At its highest, the tsunami reached over 40 metres in Miyako, Iwate prefecture. A report, released on 10 February 2016 stated that a total of 127,290 buildings collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings 'half collapsed', and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged. Around 4.4 million households in north-eastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water. The tsunami was the main cause of the loss of life that resulted from the disaster.

In March 2015, a Japanese National Police Agency reported 15,894 deaths, 6,152 injuries and 2,562 people still missing. This does not include the 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation.

Japan tsunami
A dolls head is seen amongst the rubble in Motoyoshi, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
Sigo Hatareyama works to clean out what is left of his house in Kesennuma, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images

Broken objects are still scattered among rubble that is yet to be cleared, particularly in the deserted town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture some four miles from crippled Daiichi power plant. There a total of 160,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around after the government announced the evacuation following the nuclear disaster. Many have not returned since. Those who have, were told to wear protective suits and were only allowed to return to collect valuable belongings before leaving again.

More than 250,000 photographs were found after the tragedy, not including personal belongings, household items and toys– all of which were displayed at collection centres for owners to recover. Volunteers began rinsing the dirt off the photographs, most of which were from family photo albums and of highly precious nature, so they could be easily identified.

Japan tsunami
A family photograph is seen amongst the rubble in Motoyoshi, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A volunteer cleans photographs, which were found among rubble in an area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, at a collection centre for those who are looking for their personal belongings in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, JapanToru Hanai/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A family photograph is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A volunteer cleans family photos that was washed away by the earthquake and tsunami, before placing them to dry at a volunteer centre in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, JapanToru Hanai/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A woman looks for her family photos in a room collecting personal belongings salvaged from the ruins in Yamada town, Iwate Prefecture in northern JapanCarlos Barria/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A man looks for his photographs at a collection centre for items which were found in the rubble of an area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, JapanToru Hanai/ Reuters
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A family photograph is seen amongst the rubble in Minamisanriku, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
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A picture frame and water marks are seen over the wall of a kindergarten destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, northern JapanCarlos Barria/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A burnt U2 poster, which was recovered from a destroyed home in a temple evacuation centre in Kesennuma, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A man watches an area destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami as members of a search and rescue team look for dead bodies in Ishinomaki, northern JapanCarlos Barria/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
Family photos that were washed away by the earthquake and tsunami are placed to dry before cleaning at a volunteer centre in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, JapanToru Hanai/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A family photograph is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
Personal pictures are seen in a room collecting personal belongings salvaged from the ruins in Yamada town, Iwate Prefecture in northern JapanCarlos Barria/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A tsunami victim looks for family photos in a room of personal belongings salvaged from the ruins in Yamada town, Iwate Prefecture in northern JapanDamir Sagolj/ Reuters
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A woman looks through a school album which was found near the tsunami-hit Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, JapanYuriko Nakao/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
Elementary school children's bags are seen gathered near the tsunami-hit Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, JapanYuriko Nakao/ Reuters
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A man stands in front of the fully burned Kadonowaki elementary school after the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, northern JapanCarlos Barria/ Reuters
Japan tsunami
A pornographic magazine is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A womens purse is seen amongst the rubble in Motoyoshi, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A desk chair lies in a layer of mud and petroleum that now covers much of the U.S. FISC Yokosuka Defense Fuel Support Point Hachinohe facility following a tsunami in Hachinohe, JapanDaniel Sanford/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A stopped clock covered in five years of dust, sits in tsunami damaged home inside the exclusion zone close to the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant. The area is now closed to residents due to radiation contamination from the Fukishima Nuclear Disaster in Okuma, JapanChristopher Furlong/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A welcome ornament is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A fluffy childs toy is seen amongst the rubble in Minamisanriku, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A family photograph is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A Mickey and Minnie poster is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A man washes items recovered from his destroyed house in a river in Kesennuma, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A childs toy is seen amongst the rubble in Rikuzentakata, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A picture frame hangs in a tree in Motoyoshi, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
An elephant ornament is seen amongst the rubble in Kesennuma, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A burnt car sits amongst rubble in Kesennuma, JapanChris McGrath/ Getty Images
Japan tsunami
A toy damaged in the tsunami, is seen inside the exclusion zone in Okuma, near Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Survivors exposed themselves to high levels of radiation five years ago while searching for family members swept away by the tsunami that triggered meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plantToru Hanai/ Reuters