PARIS - France's ASN nuclear safety authority said on Monday the nuclear accident in Japan could be classed as level 5 or 6 on the international scale of 1 to 7, on a par with the 1979 US Three Mile Island meltdown.

The estimate of the severity of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi plant, based on the ASN's assessment of data provided by Japan, is above the rating of four given by Japan's nuclear safety agency.

"Level four is a serious level," ASN President Andre-Claude Lacoste told a news conference, but added: "We feel that we are at least at level five or even at level 6."

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