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Japan Had Meltdown Warning Hours After Tsunami Struck

Japan -- Electric Power (TEPCO) Co.'s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No.1 reactor building's rooftop is seen in Fukushima, 15Apr2011
Japan is preparing to mark the first anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeast coast as newly released government papers show the cabinet was warned of the possibility of a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The government on March 9 released a summary of a cabinet meeting held about four hours after the tsunami struck at which an unnamed participant said, "there is a possibility that a meltdown could occur."

For months, the government maintained no meltdown had occurred, only admitting in May that there had indeed been meltdowns at three of the plant's six reactors.

The tsunami left some 19,000 people dead or missing.

The nuclear disaster left tens of thousands homeless and created a 20-kilometer exclusion zone that could be uninhabitable for decades.

With AP and AFP reporting