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The last time TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I were in Libya together, we were covering the fall of Tripoli to Libyan rebel forces, near the end of an eight-month civil war. We had covered the revolution since February 2011, moving along desert frontlines, into war-ravaged homes, and finally, up to the gates of Muammar Gaddafi’s abandoned villas in Tripoli. Our coverage last Fall took us from intelligence headquarters to the scenes of massacres and on to new front lines. It was chaos—full of discovery and excitement for the rebels and newly liberated civilians—but chaos, nonetheless. No one knew when Gaddafi would be found, or what the future would bring when they found him.

And it wasn’t until four months after Gaddafi was captured and killed—four months after the official end of the war—that we returned to Libya. This time, we didn’t sneak across any borders, nor did we duck from any bullets. We flew into a calm and functioning Benghazi airport, surrounded by flower bushes.

Libya is not as we left it. Driving across the country, we visited old friends and new acquaintances. We discovered that the Esbaks, a family of revolutionaries who I met last February in the Green Mountains of Libya’s east, had lost their youngest son since I last saw them—killed by a mortar shell on the eastern frontline. We discovered they had a new set of politics as well: after decades of dictatorship, they were already fed up with the transitional government and they wanted to see Libya divided into states.

In every town we stopped in, we met rebels we used to know—men who could now be called militia members. They had retained their weapons and their autonomy. The people who defeated the old system may be the biggest threat to stability in the new one. In Misrata, a militia leader named Mohamed Shami took us to the city’s largest prison. There, the men who used to be winners are now the captives. Their overlords are the rebels they once fought and repressed. One of the prisoners we met is Sayyed Muammar Gaddafi Dam, the late dictator’s cousin. We watched as Shami, the militia commander, posed for a picture with the frightened Gaddafi at his side.

There is no justice in the new Libya—but the former rebels are quick to note: there wasn’t much justice in the old Libya either. The prisoners are awaiting trials. Some have been waiting a year. But in the mean time, the conditions aren’t so bad, the militias say—at least torture isn’t as rampant as it was under Gaddafi.

At times our journey was certainly eerie. We stopped in all the places where we had been shot at covering the war. Human remains are still submerged in the sand at one of the first rebel camps that Gaddafi bombed from the air, outside the oil refinery at Ras Lanuf. We stood in the place where our journalist friends and colleagues had been killed in Misrata; and we interviewed former loyalists on the road in Sirte where a rocket-propelled grenade had missed my car and struck someone else. Our jaws dropped when we walked through Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli. It had been smashed and burned to oblivion, as if the entire country had vented 42 years of rage on a single spot. Perhaps noticing our shock, a 12-year-old boy leaned out of a car window and asked me: “Did you ever expect to see this?” His introduction led us to a conversation with his family, and Yuri photographed the boy and his brother, as they explored what was once the dictator’s, now theirs.

We got the feeling, as we moved from town to town, that the country was in the midst of a great, collective exhale: that Libyan journalists and politicians were just starting to find their footing on new and unfamiliar turf; that families were lifting their heads from beneath the rubble to take a look around; that, despite all the guns in the hands of lawless militias, people were at least shooting at each other less often.

We drove across the country humming along to Libyan revolutionary hip-hop, and stopping to talk with picnicking families, religious leaders, refugees, village sheikhs, and oil workers. Some people wanted revenge; others had already taken it. A lot of people were angry that the money wasn’t flowing fast enough and that they were compelled to rebuild their war-ravaged homes and businesses with money from their own pockets.

But we didn’t find the same despair that had filled the eyes of the young men we encountered in blood-spattered field hospitals just months before. Museums have been erected to commemorate the battles fought and the martyrs lost. Schools are back in session—even the shell-shocked ones. Hundreds of former rebels are training to join the new national army. Old friends are now talking about tourism and business. We heard women discussing women’s rights and lecturing men on politics—a newfound agency that they’ve capitalized on since the revolution. Where the weak transitional government is failing, ordinary citizens are helping one another rebuild. Young people are getting creative. And the most marvelous thing we found as we traveled was optimism; optimism of the wild, determined sort. Libya is set to hold its first democratic election in June. No one knows how many bumps lie in the road up ahead. But despite all those challenges, and the years of heartbreak behind them, the Libyans we met on our road trip seemed hopeful.

Read more in this week’s issue of TIME: Hope Among the Ruins

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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China, the most populous country (1.3 billion people) and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. Recent events in China include a successful satellite launch that lays the groundwork for a space station, the completion of a massive skyscraper in a rather small village, the 26th Universiade games for student athletes, the celebration of National Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and much more. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [49 photos]

Chinese artist Liu Bolin waits for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled "Plasticizer" to express his speechlessness at use of plasticizer in food additives, in his studio at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China, on August 10, 2011. (AP Photo)

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Rebel forces in Libya have made significant advances in recent weeks, according to NATO officials. They've taken larger control of the northwest, including parts of Brega and Misrata, and are currently engaging forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi in the western city of Zawiya, home to Libya's only functioning oil refinery. With these advances, rebel forces are now closing in on Qaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli, seizing approaches to the city, while NATO forces dominate the skies and Mediterranean coast. (NATO aircraft have conducted more than 7,200 strike sorties since June.) Qaddafi remains defiant in the face of attacks and global diplomatic pressure, and his forces continue to exact a heavy toll on rebel forces and civilians. Gathered here are images from the past several weeks of the civil war in Libya as it appears to be reaching a turning point. Also see earlier entries: DIY Weapons of the Libyan Rebels, and Three Months of Civil War in Libya. [41 photos]

A Libyan rebel fighter, photographed some 18 km (11 mi) west of Ajdabiyah, on July 14, 2011. (Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori)

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There are just too many bodies. Hundreds of dead have washed ashore on Japan’s devastated northeast coast since last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Others were dug out of the debris Monday by firefighters using pickaxes and chain saws.

Funeral homes and crematoriums are overwhelmed, and officials have run out of body bags and coffins.

Compounding the disaster, water levels dropped precipitously inside a Japanese nuclear reactor, twice leaving the uranium fuel rods completely exposed and raising the threat of a meltdown, hours after a hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing a different reactor.

On the economic front, Japan’s stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.

While the official death toll rose to nearly 1,900, the discovery of the washed-up bodies and other reports of deaths suggest the true number is much higher. In Miyagi, the police chief has estimated 10,000 deaths in his province alone.

Miyagi prefecture bore the full force of Friday’s tsunami, and police said 1,000 bodies were found scattered across its coast. The Kyodo news agency reported that 2,000 bodies washed up on two shorelines in Miyagi. (AP)

Some photos in this collection contain graphic images of death and destruction including some dead bodies.

 Japan Earthquake

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The debris of the destroyed Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. Fires continue to burn in the neighborhood as civil servants are finally able to enter the area to search for victims. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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Parents look at the body of their daughter they found in a courtesy vehicle of a driving school that's smashed by a tsunami at Yamamoto, northeastern Japan, on Sunday March 13, 2011, two days after a giant earthquake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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A ship washed away by tsunami sits amid debris in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast Friday. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

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A burnt ship floats in the sea in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast Friday. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

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Smoke rises from a coastal area in Ishimaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Japan's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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Smoke rise from an oil refinery on fire following a tsunami triggered by a strong earthquake in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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An SOS sign is written on the ground of Shizugawa High School in Minamisanrikucho in Miyagi Prefecture (state), northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after the powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the area. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Junichi Sasaki)

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Rescue workers carry an elderly man found alive by tsunami survivors buried under rubble along a slope of a hill in Minamisanrikucho in Miyagi Prefecture (state) Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's northeast coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroaki Ohno)

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A ferry stranded on a building is seen in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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Patients at a hospital wait to be evacuated without medicine and electricity in Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture (state) Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a strong earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Yasuhiro Takami)

 Japan Earthquake

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A young evacuee looks on at an evacuation center in Kawamata, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

 Japan Earthquake

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Rescue workers carry an elderly man found alive by tsunami survivors buried under rubble along a slope of a hill in Minamisanrikucho in Miyagi Prefecture Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroaki Ohno)

 Japan Earthquake

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People walk on a tsunami-affected street in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

 Japan Earthquake

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In this photo released by the Japanese Defense Agency, Hiromitsu Shinkawa, right, waves to rescuers before being rescued to a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on Sunday March 13, 2011. When spotted, the 60-year-old man was floating off the coast of Fukushima's Futaba town on the roof of his house after being swept away in a tsunami. He was in good condition. (AP Photo/Defense Ministry)

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Soldiers of Japan Self Defense Forces rescue a tsunami victim from a flooded area in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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A woman cries as she looks for her missing husband in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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A vessel sits on the rubble in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Japan's east coast. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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A dead woman lies under a blanket near the stairs of her destroyed home in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast Friday. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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A body, covered in a blanket, lies in the rubble of a destroyed neighborhood as police officers search the area in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011. Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast Friday. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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Smoke billows from fires raging at the port in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 following a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Japan battled a feared meltdown of two reactors at a quake-hit nuclear plant, as the full horror of the disaster emerged on the ravaged northeast coast where more than 10,000 were feared dead. An explosion at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant blew apart the building housing one of its reactors on March 12, a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami. (KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

 Japan Earthquake

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The debris of the destroyed Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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In the town of Fukushima, Japan, two hours drive south of Sendai, there is an ongoing nuclear threat after the 8.9 earthquake damaged the nearby reactor. Mari Kano, 33, holds her young son's hand as she and her two children flee their home in Fukushima on Sunday, March 13, 2011. "I'm very worried for my children. We are running away now to stay with my parents," Kano said. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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A family looks over what is left of their destroyed home in the Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, which was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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Men walk down a muddy road in the darkness of the destroyed Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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The debris of the destroyed Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. Fires continue to burn in the neighborhood as civil servants are finally able to enter the area to search for victims. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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Workers move the body of a dead woman found in the Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. Fires continue to burn in the neighborhood as civil servants are finally able to enter the area to search for victims. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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Japanese soldiers patrol in the Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, which was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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A man wanders through the debris of the destroyed Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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Men stand guard at an evacuation center, keeping warm by a fire, in the Natori neighborhood of Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, that was hit hard by the tsunami in the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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Rescuers searches for the victims of Friday's tsunami at Noda village, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

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A Japan Self-Defense Force member reacts after rescuing a four-month-old baby girl in Ishinomaki, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroto Sekiguchi)

 Japan Earthquake

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A man cycles by a ship at Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Japan's east coast. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

 Japan Earthquake

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Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee for safety with his just reunited four-month-old baby girl who was spotted by Japan's Self-Defense Force member in the rubble of tsunami-torn Ishinomaki Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit northeast Japan. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroto Sekiguchi)

 Japan Earthquake

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Japanese rescue team members carry the body of a man from the village of Saito, in northeastern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. Rescue workers used chain saws and hand picks Monday to dig out bodies in Japan's devastated coastal towns, as Asia's richest nation faced a mounting humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami that likely killed thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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People walk a road between the rubble of destroyed buildings in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tsuyoshi Matsumoto)

 Japan Earthquake

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People walk on a railway track of Japan Railway's Ofunato Line to evacuate due to the roads are cut or buried in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Monday March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

 Japan Earthquake

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Houses and infrastructures devastated by a strong earthquake and tsunami are seen in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Monday March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

 Japan Earthquake

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Rescue members seek survivors in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Masamine Kawaguchi)

 Japan Earthquake

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Evacuees gather around the candlelight at a blacked out shelter Monday, March 14, 2011, in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

 Japan Earthquake

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A tsunami survivor sits down in the rubble in Yamadamachi in Iwate Prefecture Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Takashi Ozaki)

 Japan Earthquake

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A survivor of the tsunami that swept through his village of Saito, in northeastern Japan, retells the story to a rescue team that arrived to search the area Monday, March 14, 2011. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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A cow and debris is scattered at the site of the destroyed village of Saito, in northeastern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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A Japanese rescue team member walks through the completely leveled village of Saito in northeastern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011. Rescue workers used chain saws and hand picks Monday to dig out bodies in Japan's devastated coastal towns, as Asia's richest nation faced a mounting humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami that likely killed thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

 Japan Earthquake

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Evacuees hug each other as they confirm each other's safety at a makeshift shelter in Otsuchicho town, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after the earthquake hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Yasuhiro Takami)

 Japan Earthquake

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Local people search their destroyed houses in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

 Japan Earthquake

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A girl's shoe sits in flood debris Monday, March 14, 2011, in the coastal area of Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, three days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's northeast coast. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

 Japan Earthquake

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Firefighters search for victims Monday, March 14, 2011, in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, three days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north east coast. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

 Japan Earthquake

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A resident wipes tears as she finds no remains of her home, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, three days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country's north east coast. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

 Japan Earthquake

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Tsunami survivor Atsushi Shishido, 30, sits where tsunami waters destroyed homes and killed neighbors though he rescued his 87-year-old grandmother in Friday's massive earthquake, Monday, March 14, 2011, in the coastal region of Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

 Japan Earthquake

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A resident of the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, clears debris from the remains of the resident's home Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

 Japan Earthquake

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A photo hangs from the remains of a house in the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

 Japan Earthquake

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A resident of the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, wipes her eyes as she takes a break from clearing debris from her home Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

 Japan Earthquake

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This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan on Monday, March 14, 2011. Authorities are strugging to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

 Japan Earthquake

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This aerial view taken on March 14, 2011 during an AFP-chartered flight shows cars burnt out by fires triggered by the tsunami lined up near Sendai in Miyagi prefecture three days after a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the coast of eastern Japan. A new explosion at a nuclear plant in nearby Fukushima prefecture hit punch-drunk Japan on March 14 as it raced to avert a reactor meltdown after a quake-tsunami disaster that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. (NOBORU HASHIMOTO/AFP/Getty Images)

 Japan Earthquake

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A woman reacts amidst debris caused by Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, in Natori, northern Japan Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, Toshiyuki Tsunenari)

 Japan Earthquake

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This aerial view taken on March 14, 2011 during an AFP-chartered flight shows an area destroyed by the tsunami in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture three days after a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the coast of eastern Japan. A new explosion at a nuclear plant in nearby Fukushima prefecture hit punch-drunk Japan on March 14 as it raced to avert a reactor meltdown after a quake-tsunami disaster that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. (NOBORU HASHIMOTO/AFP/Getty Images)

 Japan Earthquake

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A man comforts a woman as she cries in front of her damaged home in the town of Watari in Miyagi prefecture on March 14, 2011 three days after a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the coast of eastern Japan. A new explosion at a nuclear plant in nearby Fukushima prefecture hit punch-drunk Japan on March 14 as it raced to avert a reactor meltdown after a quake-tsunami disaster that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

 Japan Earthquake

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Natori city firefighters patrol the streets of the town once populated with hundreds of homes, now reduced to several dozens in Natori, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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A Japanese woman looks over notes left by survivors at Natori city hall where victim assistance has been set up in Natori, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese have been displaced as a result of the 8.9 earthquake last week. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

 Japan Earthquake

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Norika Otoloague, 41, right, and her daughter Yui, assess the damage done to the neighborhood in Sendai, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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Ruins from the powerful earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan can be seen in the Sendai neighborhood, Monday, March 14, 2011. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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A spoiled photo album lies in the mud near the home of the Otomo family in Sendai, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

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For more than two terrifying, seemingly endless minutes Friday, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan shook apart homes and buildings, cracked open highways and unnerved even those who have learned to live with swaying skyscrapers. Then came a devastating tsunami that slammed into northeastern Japan and killed hundreds of people.
The violent wall of [...]

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