by Alessia Cerantola, Emanuele Satolli, Matteo Moretti

On March 11, 2011 at 14:46 local time, a magnitude 9 earthquake with its epicentre off the northeastern coast of Japan, triggered a tsunami of up to forty meters. The wave came slowly and relentlessly, engulfing entire cities. Five years later, that part of the coast is still a dusty construction site stretching as far as the eye can see. Behind the uninhabited woods that separate the coast from the hinterland, are open expanses of fresh soil. An incessant background noise of trucks, bulldozers and drills working on the reconstruction. A constant smell of asphalt, paint, and freshly planed wood.

New urban centres have risen up from the ashes of the towns and fishing villages washed away by the water. But something is missing from them: the nearly 15,900 people who died and the 2,500 still missing. Most of the survivors still live in temporary homes, some have already received permanent accommodation, others are gone and perhaps will never come back.

– Read the full reportage here