Japan nuclear crisis may be on par with Chernobyl

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Japanese stop for a moment of silence at 2:46pm, exactly a month after a massive earthquake struck the area in the port town of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Monday, April 11, 2011.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

TOKYO -- Japan's top government spokesman said Japanese regulators will soon announce a revision of the severity of the crisis at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, amid reports they will raise it to the highest level and on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

On Tuesday local time, Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK both reported that Japan's nuclear safety agency had decided to raise the severity level of the crisis to 7 -- the highest level on the international scale.

Both reports quoted sources at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. NISA spokesman Minoru Oogoda declined to confirm the reports.

But chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano later told reporters that a formal announcement was coming "soon."

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