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The admission came as Japan welcomed U.S. help in stabilizing its overheated, radiation-leaking nuclear complex, and reclassified the rating of the nuclear accident from Level 4 to Level 5 on a seven-level international scale, putting it on a par with the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the crisis’ severity.

The International Nuclear Event Scale defines a Level 4 incident as having local consequences and a Level 5 as having wider consequences.

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