'You could feel the stress and terror': Inside Fukushima's abandoned hospitals, where the wounded rushed to evacuate after the nearby nuclear plant melted down

Personal items and equipment left behind in an abandoned hospital in Fukushima.

The rush to evacuate is clear in this scene of unmade beds and leftover personal items.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

  • Fukushima hospitals were flooded with victims after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

  • Now, 12 years later they sit abandoned, providing a frozen snapshot of what it must have been like.

  • Some areas are pristine while others convey a chaotic rush to evacuate after the nuclear plant’s meltdown.

Urban explorer Bob Thissen and crew recently explored two abandoned hospitals near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant that was hit by a massive tsunami in 2011, causing damage and eventual meltdown. His documentation is a stunning time capsule inside one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Abandoned surgical room in a hospital in Fukushima.

Perfectly preserved, expensive medical equipment like what you see in this operating room is left to decay.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s East Coast. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that swept over the region and killed more than 18,000 people. The first victims of the devastating event were rushed to nearby hospitals like this one.

Empty patient ward in Fukushima hospital.

Some of the rooms were left in great condition as if nothing had happened.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Hospitals in the area also served as temporary housing for the thousands of people whose homes were destroyed. Here’s a hospital cafeteria with equipment, tables, and chairs untouched since the disaster.

Abandoned hospital cafeteria in Fukushima.

People seeking refuge probably ate in this cafeteria.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Twelve years later, mattresses remain on the floor showing where people found refuge in the hours and days after the natural disaster.

Mattresses on the floor where people found refuge in a hospital after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Patients and their loved ones probably spent many nights sleeping on these makeshift floor beds.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Little did the victims and their caretakers know they would soon have to evacuate again, as the towering tsunami crashed over the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant flooding all the backup generators, causing them to overheat.

Empty hospital equipment and infant beds in the neonatal intensive care unit of an abandoned hospital in Fukushima.

These neonatal intensive care units are a bleak reminder of what some parents must have gone through during evacuation.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Two of the reactors exploded on March 12 and 14, sending plumes of radioactive material into the air. “I can only imagine how hard it must be to evacuate a hospital with patients who are in need of constant care,” Thissen told Insider.

The Minamisanriku City Hall Disaster Prevention Center one month after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011..

What the Minamisanriku City Hall Disaster Prevention Center looked like one month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.Sankei / Contributor / Getty Images

Here you can see remnants of the chaotic rush to evacuate. Patients left their unmade beds with no intention of returning. They left personal items and medical equipment behind.

Personal items and equipment left behind in an abandoned hospital in Fukushima.

The rush to evacuate is clear in this scene of unmade beds and leftover personal items.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

A third explosion on March 15 released more radiation, and the nuclear disaster continued to unfold over the next several days. Eventually the government would evacuate everyone within a 30-km (19-mile) radius of the nuclear plant.

Image of volunteers sorting through clothes and other relief supplies at a Fukushima shelter in 2011, shortly after the nuclear disaster.

A Fukushima shelter where volunteers sort through clothes and other relief supplies shortly after the nuclear disaster in 2011.AFP / Stringer / Getty Images

Wheelchairs were left abandoned in many parts of the hospitals, Thissen said, showing how quickly injured people had to flee.

Abandoned wheelchairs in empty hospitals in Fukushima.

Wheelchairs were probably impossible to bring along during the evacuation and so were left behind, strewn all over the hospitals.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

“You could feel the stress and terror people had while exploring these places. People were in a rush and left in a hurry,” Thissen said. “Many, if not all, personal belongings were still lying in the abandoned hospital.”

Children's toys and books left behind in an abandoned Fukushima hospital after the nuclear disaster.

People left almost all of their personal belongings behind as they rushed to evacuate.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

“In contrast to Chernobyl where people immediately began to steal items, Fukushima is some kind of time capsule,” Thissen said. “Everything is still standing like it was abandoned in 2011.”

Hospital supplies left in perfect order as people evacuated a Fukushima hospital.

So many supplies and so much equipment are left in these abandoned hospitals in pristine condition.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Posters and documents can still be found in the abandoned hospitals, like these signs about germs and personal hygiene.

Signs in Japanese showing kids and how to avoid germs.

These signs were taped up over 12 years old and still look brand new.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

After years of cleanup and examination of radiation levels, the government has deemed many areas near the power plant “stable” and safe to visit for short periods of time, like these hospitals. But many have yet to return, leaving the preserved equipment, sheets, and beds shown here untouched.

Empty patient beds in an abandoned Fukushima hospital.

So many hospital beds that may have been useful during the early rise of the COVID pandemic were just sitting here, abandoned.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

While many places remain clean and intact just as they were in 2011, there are some areas where you can see evidence of wild animals roaming around in the trash or causing destruction in the buildings.

A mess of supplies and buckets left all over the floor in an abandoned Fukushima hospital.

The mess shown here is probably the result of wild animals rummaging around for food.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Thissen said it’s important to show the public these images. “It shows the reality, tragedy, and consequences of the nuclear disaster. It’s not the first and will not be the last nuclear accident,” he said. “Human technology is not perfect and we’re not invincible.”

Papers strewn everywhere in an abandoned Fukushima hospital.

This chaotic scene may be the result of wild animals or perhaps it was made by people rushing to evacuate.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

These hospitals are, “a part of history, which would be forgotten if nobody documented them,” Thissen said. “Abandoned places are often monumental and should be a museum, but there’s simply no money to maintain, open, or renovate these places, so they get forgotten.”

Clock showing the time 1 o'clock in an abandoned Fukushima hospital.

The time reads 1 o’clock exactly on this clock that stopped ticking who knows how many years ago.Bob Thissen/Exploring The Unbeaten Path

Thissen and his crew have visited Fukushima four times to document what people left behind as they fled for their lives.┬áThis video shows him and his crew exploring more of Fukushima’s hospitals and the surrounding area.

Other abandoned, hidden, and forgotten parts of the world Thissen and his crew have explored include Cold War bunkers in Italy and a naval ship graveyard in France, all of which you can see on their YouTube page “Exploring the Unbeaten Path.”

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source: yahoo.com