Complete devastation: Powerful images of the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan

As the ocean retreated, the gravity of the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck northern Japan became clear.

In images that appear to come straight from a horror film, the utter devastation has shocked the world as the search for survivors continues.

A ship pushed to shore during the tsunami lies among the debris in the centre of Kensennuma city 

A man is rescued after clinging to the roof of his house for two days when he was swept out to sea 

What's left of the city of Natori in the Miyagi Prefecture 

A massive effort is in place to help survivors 

Rescue workers and residents survey the area 

After possible radiation exposure, children are provided with medication to prevent illness 

A boat delicately balances on the roof of a building 

Smoke billows from burning buildings in the city of Kensennuma 

Survivors are reunited with their loved ones 

Citizens desperately search the lists of names for word on the missing 

Surveying the damage. Thousands of people are living in temporary shelters