TOKYO - Japan's government foresaw the possibility of a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant hours after a huge tsunami smashed into it, according to cabinet minutes released on Friday, although it took officials more than a month to acknowledge it.
The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out cooling systems at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (Tepco) Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggering the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
"Cooling functions still in service are those run by batteries. They will last eight hours," a summary of the first emergency cabinet meeting, four hours after the quake, quoted an unidentified participant as saying.
"If core temperatures in the reactors remain on the rise for more than eight hours, there is a possibility that meltdown may occur."
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