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You're reading: Japan ups nuke crisis severity to match Chornobyl (updated)
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Japanese nuclear regulators said they raised the rating from 5 to 7 — the highest level on an international scale of nuclear accidents overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency — after new assessments of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since it was disabled by the March 11 tsunami.

The new ranking signifies a "major accident" that includes widespread effects on the environment and health, according to the Vienna-based IAEA.

But Japanese officials played down any health effects and stressed that the harm caused by Chernobyl still far outweighs that caused by the Fukushima plant.

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