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This is the 10th 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.

A senior Tokyo Electric Power Co. official broke down and wept in the prime minister’s office when the utility felt it had exhausted all options to prevent an utter catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

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