Japanese residents living nearby the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant are relying on drones for the quick delivery of food.

Locals of Minamisoma were evacuated in 2011 after the Fukushima meltdown and only allowed to return last year. Radiation concerns for the district, which is inside the 20km radius of the site, prohibited returning before July 2016.

Although residents have returned, food and shop access within the town is scarce. Convenience chain Lawson has partnered with Rakuten to offer a six-month trial of drone-delivered food. The drones carry up to 2kg and can deliver hot food as well as groceries and household items.

Seventy-year-old resident Tsuguo Takano had fried chicken delivered on Tuesday (31 October) and the products were delivered within several minutes. "It is warm and tasty," Takano told Kyodonews.net. "I want [the companies] to run the service for a long time because it is convenient".

Half of the Minamisoma residents are older than 65 and do not have access to transport. During the trial period, the drone-delivered food will only be available on Thursdays.

Lawson spokesman Ken Mochimaru told the BBC that the town was on the up. "The town is starting to regain its former liveliness as its residents continue to return home," Mochimaru said. "However, improving the shopping environment for daily necessities, food and other products represents a high-priority challenge."

The Fukushima meltdown was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast triggered a tsunami which flooded the plant shutdown the cooling systems. More than 160,000 people were evacuated and prohibited from returning to their homes following a series of meltdowns. Almost 600 people died in relation to the meltdown. About 20,000 people died in total from the natural disasters.