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Japan raises severity of nuclear accident

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March 18, 2011, 11:22 a.m. | World — by Associated Press

In this photo taken on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 and released on Thursday, March 17 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), white smoke billows from the badly damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture. A nearly completed new power line could restore cooling systems in Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant, its operator TEPCO said Thursday, raising some hope of easing the crisis that has threatened a meltdown and already spawned dangerous radiation surges.
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TOKYO (AP) — Japan's nuclear safety agency has raised the rating of the country's nuclear accident from 4 to 5 on a 7-level international scale. An official of the agency said March 18 the agency raised the rating of the Fukushima nuclear crisis on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The scale defines a level 4 incident as having local consequences and a level 5 incident as having wider consequences.

The official declined to give other details.
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