06/03/2013 12:53 GMT | Updated 06/03/2013 17:14 GMT

Japan Earthquake And Tsunami: Dramatic Pictures Mark Two-Year Anniversary (PHOTOS)

The earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan on 11 March 2011 was the most devastating natural disaster to hit the country, costing more than 16,000 lives.

The tsunami and the 9.0-magnitude quake, the strongest recorded in Japan and the fifth biggest in the world, wreaked havoc and chaos across the country's eastern seaboard, including a serious meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power station.

A series of photos showing a catamaran boat on top of a two-storey home in Iwate prefecture on 16 April 2011 (top); the same area on 16 January 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on 18 February 2013

Video footage and images revealed the true horror of the disaster with people running for their lives as the waves struck, roads cracking, water defences breached and vehicles being tossed around as the surging waters swept away much before it.

Since then, Japan has undertaken a huge reconstruction effort on a scale not seen since the end of World War II and areas have begun to return to some sort of normality although deeper scars remain on the nation's psyche.

Click on the slideshow below to see before-and-after photos of the disaster.