Photographer infiltrates eerie Fukushima exclusion zone, takes haunting pics
Urban explorer and photographer Keow Wee Loong illegally visited abandoned settlements around the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power plant and produced a series of photos of a post-apocalyptic world inhabited only by feral beasts.
The Malaysian photographer said that he didn’t have the time or money to obtain a permit to visit the 30 kilometer exclusion zone set up in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that caused multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns – so he simply parked his car and walked straight across the Red Zone immediately next to the stricken facility on Japan’s east coast.
“I wanted to fill in the gaps that other photographers have left, those who entered legally and only had five hours to do all their work, I took 12” Loong told RT in a phone interview.
Despite often venturing into abandoned sites, Loong was taken aback.
“It’s very empty, it’s very quiet, and it’s kind of scary – walking around a town where there were once hundreds of people, but which is now totally empty.”
He soon walked into a shop – the door was open.
Inside the packaging had browned and the place was permeated with the smell of rotting meat, he said.
A pack of homeless dogs surviving on what remained ran out straight past him. The photographer says he also saw pigs, ducks, chickens, and cats roaming the streets.
Loong then entered one of the abandoned houses.
“Unlike Chernobyl, where everything valuable has been looted clean, here everything is in place.”
Loong says the tills in the shops still have untouched cash in them, while in the houses there is jewelry and cash lying around.
Unsettled by what he experienced, Loong got in his car and drove straight out.
“The scary part is not radiation,” says the explorer, stating that the dose he had been exposed to was unlikely to have long-term effects. “The scary thing is seeing life frozen, the effect of the earthquake, exactly at the moment it happened.”
This is the message the 27-year-old wants to convey with the images.
“I want people to see the devastating effect of a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl or Fukushima. I don’t care about the fame, but I want people to see those photos.”
Loong also hopes that the shots of abandoned homes will attract attention to their former residents, some of whom have been living in temporary accommodation or with relatives for the past five years.