Images of the destruction in Japan

In a world that so often seems ruled and shaped by mankind, the overwhelming force of nature comes as a shock. At first, Japan appeared to have been spared the sort of devastation seen in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami; now, with two nuclear reactors at risk and the death toll mounting, there is the fear that it has not been spared at all. It may be that government corruption and degraded building codes played a role in the damage but as the picture above by Itsuo Inouye (AP) illustrates — and, especially, these extraordinary before and after satellite photos from the New York Times —  no building codes in the world could withstand the sort of natural force brought to bear on the coast near Sendai.

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