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Tokyo Electric Co. employees in charge of public relations, in blue uniform, explain the situation of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex during a press conference Wednesday, March 16, 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. The outer housing of the containment vessel at the No. 4 unit at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex erupted in flames early Wednesday, said a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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Japanese nuclear crisis a tangle of ominous, hopeful signs

Nuclear plant operators trying to avoid complete reactor meltdowns said Thursday that they were close to finishing a new power line that could end Japan's crisis, but several ominous signs have also emerged: a surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that U.S. officials said might be on the verge of spewing more radioactive material.

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