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Tokyo Electric Power Co

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April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)
A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)

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What does a sudden evacuation look like? After everyone is gone, what happens to the places they've abandoned? National Geographic Magazine sent Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder to the nuclear exclusion zone around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant to find out. Evacuated shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear radiation crisis, the area has been largely untouched, with food rotting on store shelves and children's backpacks waiting in classrooms. The area may face the same fate as the town of Pripyat, Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. This isn't the first time Guttenfelder has gotten a rare glimpse of a place few see, as The Big Picture featured his photographs of North Korea in an earlier post. Collected here are Guttenfelder's haunting images just released of a place abandoned, and of people dealing with the loss. -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)
In this April 7, 2011 photo, local police wearing white suits to protect them from radiation, search for bodies along a river inside Odaka, Japan. Weeks after authorities had searched for victims and started recovery in other tsunami-hit regions, cleanup crews hadn't yet been dispatched around the crippled reactors because of high radiation levels. (AP Photographer David Guttenfelder on assignment for National Geographic Magazine)

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Japan continues to deal with the enormous task of cleaning up and moving forward three months after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast. Local authorities are still dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and now the rainy season, which could increase the risk of disease as workers clear away the debris, is approaching. Collected here are images from this past weekend marking the three-month point, as well then-and-now images of the destruction shot by Kyodo News via the Associated Press. -- Lloyd Young (29 photos total)
Vehicles drive through the tsunami-hit area, three months and two days after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on June 13, 2011 in Natori, Miyagi, Japan. Japanese government has been struggling to deal in the aftermath of the disaster and the problems affecting the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Authorities are preparing for an increased risk of viral and infectious disease as delays in the clearing the debris combine with the arrival of Japan's humid, rainy season. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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SPEAKER SCUFFLE
SPEAKER SCUFFLE: An injured Muslim worshiper lay on the ground after clashing with supporters of Bulgaria’s nationalist party ‘Attack’ in front of the Banya Bashi Mosque in central Sofia Friday. The Attack party organized a rally to protest the use of loudspeakers at the mosque. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)

FEAT OF STRENGTH
FEAT OF STRENGTH: Men dragged the Baltic Queen, a vessel that weighs 20,000 tons, in Tallinn, Estonia, Friday. Some 20 ‘Hercules’ dragged the vessel for about 10 yards. (Wang Yaxiong/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

STEPPING DOWN
STEPPING DOWN: Tokyo Electric Power Company President Masataka Shimizu attended a news conference at the head office in Tokyo Friday. He resigned to take responsibility for the company’s much-criticized handling of the March 11 disasters that crippled Fukushima Daiichi. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

STRECHING NOODLES
STRECHING NOODLES: A man stretched thin noodles on wood frames in a village in Fuzhou in southeast China’s Fujian province Friday. The food, called ‘Changshou Mian,’ which means ‘longevity noodles,’ dates back more than eight centuries. (Liu Tao/EPA)

UNDER WATER
UNDER WATER: An old school bus sat in floodwater from the rising Mississippi River in St. Francisville, La., where a dozen homes and businesses were flooded Friday. Residents were leaving under a mandatory evacuation order set to kick in on Saturday. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

BROKEN GLASS
BROKEN GLASS: A policeman drove while sitting in the cab of a water tanker that had its windows smashed by a group of protesters in Mumbai Friday. Demonstrators protesting against a temporary cut in water supply attacked private water tankers with sticks and stones in central Mumbai. (Reuters)

READY, AIM, FIRE
READY, AIM, FIRE: A masked Palestinian demonstrator used a sling-shot to hurl stones at Israeli troops, not pictured, during the weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, Friday. (Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press)

SINKING SHIPS
SINKING SHIPS: A Libyan navy corvette exploded during an air strike by British Royal Air Force Tornado jets on the port of Al Khums, Libya, Friday. NATO aircraft sank eight warships belonging to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in overnight attacks, the alliance said. (Crown Copyright/Handout/Reuters)

SHOW OF SUPPORT
SHOW OF SUPPORT: People waited behind a bamboo barricade to get a glimpse of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee after she took an oath as the new chief minister of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal in Kolkata Friday. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

NEED FOR SPEED
NEED FOR SPEED: Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain could be seen in the rear mirror during the second free practice at the Montmelo racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, Friday. The Formula One race will be held on Sunday. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

LIKE MARILYN MONROE
LIKE MARILYN MONROE: A dog lay on a subway grate as protesters set up tents at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid Thursday during a protest against Spain’s economic crisis and its sky-high jobless rate. Young people camped in main squares across Spain. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

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Japan raced to avert a nuclear meltdown today by flooding a nuclear reactor with seawater after Friday's massive earthquake left more than 600 people dead and thousands more missing. Towns in the country's northeast coast were literally wiped away by an ensuing tsunami, leaving countless people seeking shelter in the aftermath of the quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and was the country's strongest recorded quake. -- Lloyd Young 44 photos total)
A resident is rescued from debris in Natori, Miyagi, northern Japan March 12 after one of the country's strongest earthquakes ever recorded hit its eastern coast March 11. (Asahi Shimbun, Noboru Tomura/Associated Press)

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