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During the confusion immediately after the tsunami, Prime Minister Naoto Kan demanded that Tepco executives tell him: “What the hell is going on?”

Also on Friday, chief Cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, who appeared on TV daily to appeal for public calm during the first weeks of the crisis, said that even he and Mr. Kan were not properly informed about what was happening March 11.

He said that an official at the prime minister’s office failed to give them a fax detailing a computer simulation of how radiation likely would spread from reactors damaged by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a 50-foot-high tsunami.

So, when Mr. Kan flew by helicopter over the plant the next morning, he did not know the true situation at the plant and could not make proper evacuation orders, Mr. Edano said.

”We will thoroughly check the circumstances regarding why the data was not reported and also want this to be reviewed by an independent panel probing the nuclear accident,” he said.

Along with Tepco officials, Mr. Kan has borne the brunt of public fury. During several visits to evacuation shelters in Fukushima prefecture, Mr. Kan went on his knees to accept criticism from angry residents who fear they will never be able to return home.