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Live updates: The search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501

SINGAPORE - An AirAsia flight carrying 155 people from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control today (Dec 28). The plane was due to arrive in Singapore at 8.30am. Stay tuned for live updates.

An Air Asia A320-200 plane takes off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia. AP file photo

An Air Asia A320-200 plane takes off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia. AP file photo

SINGAPORE — An AirAsia flight carrying 162 people from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Dec 28. The plane was due to arrive in Singapore at 8.30am. Stay tuned for live updates. 

This page was last updated on Jan 1, 2015. For check here for the latest updates.


Jan 1

10.30 pm: AirAsia has provided an update on the operations so far in a statement tonight. It says more than 90 vessels and aircraft from various countries including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States are involved in the search and rescue. Five more vessels have been deployed to the search area. 

10.00 pm: The first body to be brought home, Hayati Lutfiah Hamid was buried earlier this afternoon after authorities handed her over to the family members. Hamid, 49, was buried on Thursday (Jan 1) before sundown in the suburb of Desa Sawotratap, a few kilometres from Surabaya, at an Islamic ceremony attended by relatives and neighbours. Three members of her family were also on board the plane.

9.35 pm: Singapore navy ship RSS Valour has recovered pieces of equipment, debris from #QZ8501, CNA says.


8.20 pm: Two more bodies that have been recovered have been flown from Pangkalan Bun to Surabaya, CNA reports.



5.55 pm: A relative of the family of the first QZ8501 passenger to be identified, Hayati Lutfia Hamid, weeps as she receives the body from the authorities during the handover earlier today. 

5.45 pm: TODAY in Pangkalan Bun: Iskandar airport in Pangkalan Bun receives another body retrieved from the AirAsia crash. This is the eighth body brought to the city so far. 

5.00 pm: Authorities have identified the first body of a QZ8501 passenger. The body is identified as Hayati Lutfia Hamid, KompasTV reports. The passenger's body has been handed over to the family. The passenger was identified through fingerprints, medical records, surgery marks and personal effects, including an ID card found on the body. 

2.22pm: TODAY on board MV Swift Rescue: The Singapore navy vessel has arrived at its assigned search sector. Weather conditions are bad, but search operations have begun.  

According to Indonesian authorities, the area has a higher possibility of containing the main fuselage and black box.

Pictured below are Major John Lau and Ops Planner ME3 Ramaamy conducting detailed planning for the search operations.

The ship is using an underwater telephone to pick up signals that would be emitted from the black box. (Photos: Raj Nadarajan)


1.47pmTODAY in Pangkalan Bun - BG Arthur Tampi, Chief of Medicine and Health at the Indonesian police confirmed that one of the bodies found was still in her AirAsia uniform, including the name tag. The name on the AirAsia name tag is Khairunnisa.

1.47pmTODAY in Pangkalan Bun - BG Arthur Tampi, Chief of Medicine and Health at the Indonesian police confirmed that one of the bodies found was still in her AirAsia uniform, including the name tag. The name on the AirAsia name tag is Khairunnisa.

1.47pm: TODAY in Pangkalan Bun - BG Arthur Tampi, Chief of Medicine and Health at the Indonesian police confirmed that one of the bodies found was still in her AirAsia uniform, including the name tag. The name on the AirAsia name tag is Khairunnisa.

The 5th body found was that of an adult woman. Her height was 1.64m. She was found wearing jeans, a brown belt, a gold watch and a pair of black shoes.

BG Arthur said that while the bodies found were badly decomposed, they could not be treated with formaldehyde during the journey from the navy ship to the hospital as this could affect DNA analysis.

1.10pm: Malaysian navy vessel KD Pahang could only recover one body, out of three found yesterday, due to bad sea condition, said the Chief of Navy on Twitter.

11.37am: Current sea conditions are hampering search operations, said the Malaysian chief of navy on Twitter. Channel NewsAsia on board Singapore navy vessel RSS Persistence reports current conditions as Sea State 3, which indicates waves of 0.5m to 1.25m.

11.07am: TODAY in Pangkalan Bun: Four bodies at a hospital in pangkalan Bun are now being sent to Iskandar Airport en route to Surabaya.

10.33am: Channel NewsAsia reports: First two bodies flown to Surabaya identified. Families to know first.

9.45am:  Reports of better weather conditions today means that divers are hoping to reach the suspected site of the AirAsia wreck.

9.28am: The search area has been expanded to 13,500sqnm, says Malaysian Chief of Navy.

8.22am: 2 bodies retrieved by the Indonesian navy are now at a hospital in Pangkalan Bun. They have been cleansed, placed in coffins and will be flown to Surabaya later today for identification.

8.02am: 10 bodies have been recovered so far, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Malaysian navy said that one of the bodies recovered has been identified as Kevin Alexander Soetjipto, a finance student at Australia's Monash University. He was identified through a wallet found on his body.

Dec 31

11.34pm: Malaysian navy vessel discovered plane's evacuation slide, says its Chief of Navy.

Dec 31

11.34pm: Malaysian navy vessel discovered plane's evacuation slide, says its Chief of Navy.

10pm: Five bodies could be flown back using the Indonesian C-130 tomorrow, said officials.

9.20pm: mine counter measure vessel has departed from Tuas Naval Base this afternoon, while an autonomous underwater vehicle will be transported tomorrow, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. 

7.50pm: Police says first two bodies recovered belong to a teenage boy and a woman.

7.00pm: Malaysia's navy crew have retrieved four more bodies from the QZ8501 wreckage site, tweeted chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar. The bodies were brought on board the Royal Malaysian Navy's KD Pahang and KD Lekir. Screengrab from Twitter.

6pm: Singapore's naval divers on board MV Swift Rescue preparing for the search and rescue mission. They will work in teams of six once the arrive tomorrow. Photo: Raj Nadarajan

5.45pm: First two bodies have arrived at Surabaya, where relatives are waiting. 

5.30pm: Singapore's MV Swift Rescue will deploy a Remotely Operated Vehicle when it reaches the south coast of Borneo tomorrow (Jan 1). The vehicle will search underwater for the aircraft's main fuselage and black box. Photo: Raj Nadarajan 

5pm: Singapore sends 5th navy ship to join rescue and search operations. The RSS Kallang has the capability to conduct underwater search operations.

3.08pm: President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offer condolences to Indonesian counterparts.

2.23pm: Rescue divers have not been able to conduct their operations today due to bad weather, reports local media.

1.26pm: Rescue agency BASARNAS confirms there are now a total of 3 female and 4 male bodies found.

1.00pm: Another body recovered bring the total to seven bodies so far, reports local media.

12.20pm: Singapore to offer 2 more naval assets with underwater capabilities and replace corvette

11.05am: RSS Persistence arrived earlier at 9.30am, given a more defined search area, reports Channel NewsAsia.

10.29am: So far, 93 families have submitted general data for body identification. 30 families have submitted DNA samples.

9.54am: Rescue agency BASARNAS says bodies will be brought to Pangkalanbun, and then to Surabaya.

8.00am: Singapore’s RSS Valour, Swift Rescue take sector 2 while RSS Persistence, Supreme take sector 4 of rescue zone. Each measures 28 x 56 nautical miles.

6.50am: Malaysia Airline’s logo goes grey in solidarity with AirAsia.

6.45am: Day 4 of search and rescue mission begins at daybreak. Day 4 of search and rescue operation focused on four sectors measuring 28x56 nautical miles, says Malaysia’s chief of navy.

6.30am: US Navy ready to send maritime patrol plane, sonar equipment to scour seabed. US Fort Worth to be deployed from Singapore to join search for missing flight wreckage.

6.26am: The RSS Persistence, a landing ship tank, with two Super Puma helicopters on board is headed to the new search location south of Kalimantan. Its estimated arrival time is 10am on Wednesday (Dec 31).

Dec 30

10.48pm:: PM Lee Hsien Loong expresses condolences to families and loved ones of victims:

9.13pm:: AirBus statement:

8.55pm:: US preparing to deploy a 2nd ship to help with recovery, reports CNN.

8.45pm: The key points from the latest statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Transport:

- Singapore air accident investigation specialists and equipment to depart for search area tomorrow.

- 3 Singapore navy vessels have been asked to proceed to debris site, another vessel departed S'pore at 7pm today.

- Singapore has offered Indonesia a disaster victim identification team.

- AirAsia has arranged for 13 next-of-kin to depart Singapore for Surabaya today.

8.10pm: Indonesian president Joko Widodo says he has surveyed the search site from a plane. He thanked countries that have helped in the search and said the focus now was on recovering debris and bodies.

7.56pm: "100 per cent confirmed that debris is from AirAsia flight". Other key points from BASARNAS news conference:

- A part with the same part number with that was on the aircraft was found.

- The main challenge to the recovery process is 2-3m waves.

- If conditions permit, all ships in the area will continue the recovery process tonight. BASARNAS hopes to recover largest piece of debris tonight.

- Victims found so far have all been dead.

- BASARNAS clarifies that only 3 bodies have been recovered so far, the navy had earlier said it was more than 40.

- BASARNAS will be looking for the black box underwater. But 'only those authorised  will be allowed to handle the black box'

7.22pm: Air operations suspended for the night, according to Metro TV. The restart will be at 7.30am tomorrow (Singapore time). Bodies are now on board Indonesian Navy ship KRI Bung Tomo.

7.01pm: AirAsia Indonesia will be inviting family members to Surabaya, where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met. Counsellors, religious and spiritual personnel have also been invited to the family centre to provide any necessary services.

7pm: Singapore naval vessel MV Swift Rescue has departed to assist in search operations. TODAY is on board and will provide updates.

6.13pm: Indonesian helicopter flying at 200ft spots several more bodies, says Navy spokesman.

6.11pm: Detik reports that an AirAsia official in Surabaya was furious towards TV One crew for showing uncensored footage of the bodies. Several relatives broke into tears, and some fainted.

5.54pm: Singapore navy vessels have been redeployed to the site where debris and bodies were found, says Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

5.51pm: TODAY in Manggar Belitung - 6 bodies to be brough to Tanjung Pandan in Belitung for identification because river leading to Pangkalabun is too small for the navy ship carrying the bodies to enter, says Mr Basuri Tjahaja Purnama, Regent of East Belitung.

5.28pm: Indonesian media reports that more than 40 bodies have been recovered

4.15pm: Indonesia's TV One broadcasting footage of helicopters evacuating bodies of victims


4.11pm: AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes sends out his condolences.

(Twitter screengrab)


(Screengrab from Berita Satu)

Key points:

"At 1350, Indonesian C-130 spotted a 'plane-like' object underwater."

"At just past 1400, same plane spotted what looked like a body."

"At 1450 Indonesian navy ship KRI Bung Tomo, found what is thought to be an emergency door of an airplane."

"Based on the findings, BASARNAS is 95% certain that the location of the findings is indeed the location of the AirAsia aircraft."

"Depth of the sea where the debris were found is 25-30 meters."

"Results of the recovery will be brought to Surabaya for identification."

"Due to the shallow depth of water, a submersible may no longer be needed."

3.00pm: Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim puts out a Facebook post showing his concern regarding the issue.

2.07pm: Metro TV quotes air force officer: "10 bigger items and countless smaller items... not usually seen on sea surface."

1.02pm: AirAsia says it will fly families of QZ8501 passengers to search area.

1.00pm: New Zealand dispatches an air force P3 Orion to join search for the AirAsia flight.

12.30pm: The governor for Bangka Belitung archipelago Rustam Efendi visits Manggar operation base to greet rescuers.\

(Photo: Xue Jianyue/TODAY)

12.27pm: Teleconference for families and authorities linking Surabaya airport, Jakarta and Singapore begins.

11.47am: False alarm as two emergency signals received by search officials are said to not be from missing flight, reports CNA

10.02am: Officials showing the map of Day 3's search area.

(Picture: Sumisha Naidu/Channel NewsAsia)

9.59am: South Korea to send surveillance plane to aid Indonesia later today, reports Yonhap News Agency.

9.42am: Indonesia widens air search for QZ8501 from 7 areas to 13-area search zone; 4 helicopters deployed, reports Channel NewsAsia, AP.

8.55am: Fire reportedly spotted on an island in search zone. 2 small planes sent to check on them.

8.50am: China announces that it will deploy a frigate and air force jet to the search zone.

8.46am: According to news website Mirror UK, area where flight disappeared is reportedly known as the Thunderstorm factory. Reports say veteran pilots usually avoid this part of the Java Sea because of its catastrophic storms.

6.45am: Reports say US is sending a destroyer, the USS Sampson, to aid in search for missing flight.

Dec 29

11.17pm: China has sent a warship to aid the search. "Preparatory work" have also begun for planes to join in.

9.33pm: The search areas today:

7.56pm: Singapore extends further assistance in search for missing plane. Here are the key points from the latest Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore-Ministry of Transport statement: 

- This afternoon, Singapore offered additional equipment and personnel from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to support the operations, including a sidescan sonar system and a robotic remotely-operated vehicle.

- A Navy Landing ship tank, RSS Persistence, sailed off this evening to join in the efforts.

- The Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency has accepted the offer of a Submarine support and rescue vessel (MV Swift Rescue). It is ready to set sail.

- AirAsia arranged for another 11 next-of-kin to fly to Indonesia today.

5.13pm: One of the four fishing boats that were searching the waters around Nangka Island has returned to Manggar, the base of search operations. Fishermen and police on board told reporters they did not find anything related to the flight.

5.10pm: Channel NewsAsia reports - Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said in a news conference that Indonesia is aware of reports on "wreckage" found in the Java Sea by Australian aircraft but cannot confirm until further analysis is conducted.

He says there is no time frame on the search and locate mission and anything found will be treated with utmost importance. Indonesia hopes there will be survivors but is "prepared for the worst", he said.

30 ships and 15 aircraft from various countries are taking part in the search operation and fishermen are being asked to help. Indonesia now mulling offers of help from the UK and France.

Separately, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes saying the airline company has not begun thinking about compensation as the search is still underway. No changes will be made to operations until the search and investigations are complete.

4.26pm: Singapore navy vessels, RSS Supreme and RSS Valour, have arrived at the QZ8501 search area, says Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Facebook.

4.03pm: At a press conference today, Mr Steven Teo, Senior Investigator at Air Accident Investigation Bureau of Singapore, explains how locator beacons are used:

"Typically, flight recorders are affixed in an underwater locator beacon, which is this cylindrical device here. So the intent for this ULB is when it's submerged into the water, it will start to emit an acoustic signal. How we detect this signal is by using a hydrophone -- something like an underwater microphone."

"An operator will submerge the hydrophone underwater, and will rotate it 360 degrees. Another operator will use headsets and listen for the signal. The theory is that as the hydrophone rotates towards the blackbox directly, the sound will get louder. If it starts to get softer, we know we have passed it."

"The operator will try to ascertain the direction. Once this has been determined, we will input  the coordinates into a software. This will be repeated twice to determine the location the flight's ULB will highly likely be in." 

"With this information, we will forward them to our Indonesian counterparts, who will then follow up. These follow up actions may include sending divers to the location we determined to physically look for the flight data recorder." 

3.32pm: AP Reports: Indonesian official says that an Australian Orion aircraft has detected suspicious objects near Nangka island, 1,120km from the location where the plane lost contact.

"However, we cannot be sure whether it is part of the missing AirAsia plane," said the official. "We are now moving in that direction, which is in cloudy conditions."

3.05pm: Malaysia has deployed three navy vessels and more aircraft to join in the search, according to Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

2.20pm: AirAsia says it plans to retire the callsign QZ8501.

2.08pm: Indonesia accepts Singapore's offer of specialist teams and underwater locator equipment.

12.27pm: China's foreign ministry says government offering help in search for missing flight. So far, other countries who have pledged support are Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.

12:00pm: AirAsia shares lose more than 7% in morning trading in Kula Lumpur, after QZ8501 incident.

11:33am: Various media are beginning to cite Indonesian rescue officials saying that QZ8501 has crashed into the sea.

"Based on our coordinates, we predict that the plane is on the sea, for now it could be in the bottom of the sea," Soelistyo, head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, told reporters. 

11:30am: Changi Airport Group spokesperson: "Some of the QZ8501 passengers' next-of-kin have returned to the holding area at around 8am this morning, awaiting further updates from the authorities. Counsellors deployed by the authorities are also providing them with emotional support."

11:10am: Major press conference to be held by search mission commanders in Belitung Island.

10:15am: CNN reports that families of passengers on missing flight meet behind closed doors with CEO Tony Fernandes.

9.53am: South Korea announces it will join search for missing AirAsia plane.

8.40am: Indonesian authorities are seen briefing search-and-rescue personnel before the mission takes place. Three areas will be searched around the islands and seas north and east of Belitung Island:

1. Nangka island, where fishermen reportedly heard a crash.
2. Lung island, where fishermen reportedly saw a plane going down.
3. Serutu island, where fishermen reportedly saw dead bodies.

8.15am: TODAY is on site at Manggar, East Belitung Island. Indonesian military & fisherman are seen working together at a search and rescue base in preparation for the search mission.

8.11am: Australia Defence Force despatches a AP-3C Orion Maritime Patrol craft from Darwin to help in search.

8:00am: Indonesia rescue agency says search will focus on 270 nautical miles radius off Belitung Island in Java sea

7.30am: Search for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 resumes.

7.00am: Second RSAF C-130 sets off from Singapore to join the search for QZ8501.

Dec 28

11.59pm: Indonesia military accepts offer of assistance from Singapore. RSS Supreme (formidable-class frigate) and RSS Valour (missile corvette) departs from naval bases in support of the search and locate operation in Indonesia.

9.18pm: 16 next-of-kin have taken the offer to fly to Surabaya tonight, according to Changi Airport Group. The rest have retired for the night, either at home or in a hotel.

9.10pm: Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says that four navy vessels are on standby to join in the search-and-locate operations.

8.57pm: All next-of-kin have left the Relatives' Holding Area for the night, according to Changi Airport Group.

8.00pm: Key points from the latest statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) - 

1. Two more Singapore planes will set off early tomorrow morning to continue the search. A C-130 plane was launched earlier today.

2. CAAS will be sending an officer to the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency in Jakarta to assist in the coordination with the Indonesian authorities on the search operations.

3. The Singapore Ministry of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Bureau has offered two teams of specialists and two sets of underwater locator beacon detectors to assist with the search.

4. The Singaporean on board has been confirmed to be a 2-year-old girl. She was travelling with her father, a British national.

7.33pm: Search & locate operations have been suspended for the night, will resume tomorrow, says Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Mr Kalla is at Basarnas' mission control overseeing the search operations.

7.13pm: AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes expressed thanks for the "massive show of support especially from fellow airlines". "This is my worst nightmare, but there is no stopping", he tweeted.




7.04pm: The Singaporean on board QZ8501 was a 2-year-old girl, according to Channel NewsAsia. She was travelling with her father, a British national. Her mother had travelled back earlier from Surabaya with the girl's older sibling.

6.56pm: Malaysia has deployed 3 vessels & 3 aircraft to assist in the search operation, according to Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

6.54pm: AirAsia has issued a correction on the nationality breakdown of passenger and crew on board

6.30pm: Changi Airport Group Statement - 47 relatives and friends of 57 passengers on board QZ8501 have registered at Changi Airport's Relatives' Holding Area.

Help and support are being provided by 36 CAG care officers and four counsellors from the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Other staff from CAG, AirAsia and airport partners, as well as officials from the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore are also present to assist.

Arrangement for local accomodation or travel to Indonesia have been made for next-of-kin.

Three Indonesian AirAsia flights were retimed today.

5.41pm: Singapore reacts: Second Minister of Defence and former Chief of Army Chan Chun Sing says Singapore is working closely with their Indonesian counterparts on the search.

5.03pm: AP reports: The Airbus A320 is a workhorse of modern aviation. The A320 family of jets has a very good safety record, with just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs. AirAsia has never lost a plane before and has a good safety track record.

4.50pm: AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes is on his way to Surabaya.

4.36pm: Airbus says QZ 8501 had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights. The aircraft manufacturer will be providing full assistance to the French safety investigation authority, BEA, and to the authorities in charge of the investigation.

4.23pm: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean visited families at Changi Airport.

4.05pm: Indonesia has accepted Singapore’s offer to assist in the search and locate efforts, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Indonesian authorities requested for one C-130 plane for now. The plane has already been launched.

4.02pm: Changi Airport Group says it will issue a statement in the next hour on accomodation arrangements for relatives of people onboard QZ8501.

3.56pm: A China foreign ministry spokesperson  said that Beijng shared “deep concerns” over the safety of people on board QZ8501. Both Chinese missions in Singapore and Indonesia are keeping track of the situation, according to the spokesperson.

Mr Bian Liangwei, whose brother was on flight MH370, told South China Morning Post: "I hope all the people aboard the Air Asia flight are fine. After all, there's no confirmation yet."

3.50pm: Malaysia has set up a rescue coordination centre and are deploying assets now to aid in the search, says Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

3.45pm: Members of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation arrived at Changi Airport to offer support to family members. They were not allowed to enter into the holding area.

3.07pm: AirAsia senior management in Singapore say current plan is for media briefing to be held in Indonesia.

2.57pm: According to real-time weather monitoring & lightning detection network Weather Bug, there were lightning strikes near path of flight QZ8501 between 2309hrs & 2320hrs UTC. around the time the flight went missing.

2.43pm: South Korean foreign ministry confirm one male and one female in their thirties and an infant were onboard.

2.39pm: Flight lost contact somewhere between waters off Kalimantan and Tanjung Pandan, says transport minister.

2.37pm: Indonesian transport minister say search and locate operations will be focused on an area off East Java.

2.27pm: Prime Minister Najib tweets his condolences

2.23pm: Indonesia officials reportedly saying no way QZ8501 could still be in the air as it would have run out of fuel.

2.14pm: Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai at AirAsia HQ in Kuala Lumpur

2.05pm: Indonesia's transport ministry instructs all ships in the area to look out for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.

1.49pm: RSAF has two C-130 aircrafts on standby to assist in search-and rescue operations

1.42pm: QZ8501 had last undergone scheduled maintenance on Nov 16 this year: AirAsia

1.30pm: AirAsia statement - Captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours. There were 155 passengers on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew.

The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2014.

AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

1.28pm: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tweets 

12.52pm: AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweets

11:55am: AirAsia has updated its profile picture on Facebook to a grey logo.

11:47am: AirAsia Indonesia confirms that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24am Singapore time.


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