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This is the first in a series on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe based on the accounts of people who struggled to contain the crisis in its early stages. Job titles and ages are as of March 2011.

Four days after the magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant chief Masao Yoshida was at his wit’s end.

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