Street View before/after shots show the scale of the destruction in the affected areas.

Google launches Japan tsunami ‘digital archive’

Google unveiled a new site that shows before and after street view images of tsunami-stuck regions of Japan with over 44,000km of roads recorded since the disaster.

"A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities," wrote Google Street View chief Kei Kawai on the Google blog.

"If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces."

Kawai said that they hoped the digital archiving project would be useful for researchers and scientists looking to study the effects of natural disasters.

Certainly the images make it far clearer than any news report the sheer scale of the devastation on the Japanese coast with whole districts virtually scrubbed clean of all but the sturdiest concrete structures.

Google’s Japan Tsunami archive site entitled "Memories for the Future" can be found here.

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