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The Japanese whaling town of Ayukawa has survived the wrath of environmental groups for decades, but had no defence against a giant tsunami that wiped out the industry there, possibly forever.

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One of only four communities in Japan that have continued to hunt and eat whales in defiance of international opposition, the town was already down to a single operating company, Ayukawa Whaling.

The March 11 tsunami that slammed into Japan's northeast coast took most of Ayukawa with it, destroying 80 per cent of houses and leaving 400 of its 1,400 residents unaccounted for.

The wave shattered Ayukawa Whaling's storage facility and carried its fleet of three whaling ships hundreds of metres inland where they now lie grounded and impotent.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from Mizusawa on Ayukawa's flattened coastline.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies