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AP PHOTOS: Devastation lingers in Japan

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March 9, 2013 12:03 AM EST | AP


TOHOKU, Japan — Two years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 in Japan, residents of coastal towns flattened by the wall of water are still trying to recover.

The slow pace of reconstruction is taking a psychological toll on survivors, while radiation from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant adds to the anxiety. About 160,000 people were displaced by the nuclear disaster, and even some areas outside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) zone that initially was completely off-limits are too contaminated to be cleaned up in the foreseeable future.

It remains unclear how many people will eventually return to their homes, given fears over potential risks from the radiation and the lack of jobs.

The second anniversary of the disaster is Monday, March 11.

Here's a gallery of images that illustrate the day the tsunami hit and aftermath.