Japan began evacuating people from outside the official exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after it was revealed fuel rods there probably melted hours after March's devastating earthquake.
With radiation levels remaining high, small children and pregnant women were the first to be moved, with thousands more to be shifted into shelters and temporary housing.
More details have emerged about the meltdown in Fukushima's No. 1 reactor, with revelations the fuel rods were likely exposed to the air for as long as 14 hours - a fact not discovered until last week.
It appears the rods melted just hours after the earthquake and tsunami struck, dropping to the bottom of the pressure vessel at the core.
It was the news the people of Iitate village had been dreading.
A touch further than 30 kilometres from the Fukushima plant, Iitate was outside the evacuation zone until now.
Because of wind patterns, Iitate and nearby communities have been swathed in high radiation and authorities are not willing to let people stay any longer.
"I'm sure most of you have lived in this village all your lives and have never planned on moving," mayor Norio Kanno told residents.
"To those of you that I now have to ask to pack up and leave your homes, I am deeply sorry."
After the plant's operator, TEPCO, told the Japanese people that things were stabilising at Fukushima, it is now clear they knew far less about the situation than they were willing to admit.
About 8,000 Iitate residents and those in the nearby village of Kawamata are being asked to move, joining the tens of thousands who have already been forced out of their homes by the nuclear crisis.
They will be put up in hotels, public housing and evacuation shelters, and no-one knows when they will be allowed to return.
"It's such an incredible shame to have to leave the house I've lived in for so long," one elderly resident said.
"I can't express it in words."