While reports and pictures from on the ground in Japan reveal the human side of the tragedy the tsunami has caused, these before-and-after aerial photographs indicate the sheer scale of devastation that was unleashed upon towns and villages up and down the country's eastern coast.
Huge swathes of land have been inundated by water and the black sludge that has become a familiar but consistently shocking feature of the disaster.
Looking from left to right in each of these three pairs of images, so many homes, businesses and lives have been swept away that it is hard to imagine some of these settlements ever again becoming habitable. They are the kinds of images we associate with historical evidence of Second World War bombing raids, rather than of the fragility revealed in our towns and cities when faced with nature doing its worst. They also show why some areas are as yet still unreachable by rescue teams hindered by flooded roads.
An estimated 2,700 homes have been destroyed in Arahama, located in the badly hit prefecture of Sendai, where so far 300 people have been declared dead in this small area alone.