BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhuanet) -- The operator of the Fukushima Nuclear plant, TEPCO, says it's trying to determine whether the facility was actually damaged by the earthquake on March 11th, rather than the resulting tsunami.
TEPCO also says fuel rods in the facility's number one reactor have completely melted down.
A spokesman for TEPCO has outlined a new analysis of the crisis.
A review of data suggests the number 1 reactor's fuel rods were fully exposed within five hours of the quake, causing them to heat rapidly.
By the next morning - just 16 hours later - the rods had largely melted down. If the new data analysis is correct, it means the facility was mainly damaged by the quake itself - NOT the resulting tsunami, as previously thought.
The No. 2 and No. 3 reactors are thought to have gone through a similar process, but with only 30 percent damage to their fuel rods.
TEPCO has now decided to send a new team inside the plant to check the accuracy of the findings.
In response, Prime Minister Naoto Kan told Japan's parliament that the company will release an updated timetable for resolving the crisis on Tuesday.
But Kan said stabilization of the reactors would still be limited to within six to nine months.
The new findings come as Japan on Friday ordered residents outside the established thirty-kilometer exclusion zone to leave their homes. Around 8-thousand people are to be relocated by the end of the month.