Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant alert level raised from 4 to 5

Japan has reclassified the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant, now placing it at five on the International Nuclear Events Scale.

A level four event is classified by the International Atomic Energy Agency as being an accident with local consequences, while a level five incident is said to have wider effects.

However, the upgrade reportedly does not mean that the situation is worsening.

'The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans,' chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said.

He added that 'in hindsight' authorities should have assessed the situation and relayed the information faster.

The reclassification now puts the unfolding situation on par with the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the US, which took 12 years to clean up, although it did not lead to any health consequences, as little radiation was emitted.

In contrast, the radiation levels surrounding the nuclear facility in Japan were said to have reached harmful levels. Around 10,000 people are to receive screening for exposure to radiation.

Japanese officials said six people have been asked to clean their hands and faces following testing, but no one has been asked to clean their entire body, Japan Today reported.

More Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant alert level raised from 4 to 5

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