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Then and now photos capture desolate scenes 5 years after Japan tsunami wiped away towns

Five years ago, Japan was just comprehending the immediate aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people.

Another 2,000 people were considered missing and are presumed dead.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck offshore near Japan. Less than an hour later, colossal waves from the resulting tsunami poured into the country's northeast coast.

Buildings and homes were decimated, turning towns into piles of rubble. At least 332,395 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Five-year anniversary of Japan's worst earthquake and tsunami

Roughly 100,000 people are still waiting to return to their homes, according to Al Jazeera.

In Fukushima, damage to the nuclear power plant created a radioactive disaster. Three units melted after not receiving the necessary coolant as the station lost power.

Some neighborhoods are still reduced to a plot of dirt as work to rebuild is underway. The government expects to open all evacuated areas, outside of the nuclear plant zone, by next year.