Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami News updates
for April 23-29, 2011
This page is a continuation of my main Strongest
Earthquake and Tsunami
page, reflecting April 23-29, 2011 news updates for the
7th week after
the initial quake. Thanks so much for your
concern, and please remember in your thoughts and prayers those
thousands of people who are
suffering right now and haven't heard from their missing
News Updates for
7th Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- April
(JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):
2011 20:25 (JST): Children in Japan city adjust to studying,
living at school - Until 11:45 a.m., Ami Iimori, 8, goes
to school on the first floor of Okaido Elementary School.
Afterward, she walks to the second floor classroom that she has called
home for the last six weeks. She jumps around on the blankets laid out
on the floor with her brother, Yoshi, 4, and sweeps up her little
sister Miu, 1, in her arms. The children from the other families living
in the classroom join in the horseplay sometimes.
"I'm happy here. It's fun," Ami says. Eiji Kai, 10, lives with his
mother, Yoshiko, and his brother Asuka, 7, in a classroom with other
families at Okaido Elementary School in Ishinomaki. Thousands were left
homeless in the city following the March 11 tsunami in northeast Japan.
Eiji is one of 11 children who both live in and attend class at the
(Erik Slavin/Stars and Stripes)
2011 17:00 (JST): Singapore restaurant campaign for Japan
- A group of Japanese restaurants in Singapore is launching a Japanese
food campaign to support the victims of the March 11th strongest ever
Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Consumers' avoidance of Japanese agricultural products in the country
is spreading following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi
power plant, but people are still interested in supporting Japan.
10 Japanese restaurant chains, including sushi and noodle shops, are to
join the 2-week campaign. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 14:25 (JST): U.S. Army's tsunami relief efforts winding
down in Japan - The largest remaining unit of U.S.
servicemembers in the tsunami-ravaged regions of northeast Japan will
be drawing down to about 20 soldiers in the coming weeks, Army
officials said Thursday.
The Army's I Corps Forward -- which has been clearing buildings and
supplying assistance to evacuees since shortly after the March 11
earthquake and tsunami struck Japan -- is sending soldiers back to Camp
Zama and Okinawa as their missions end, officials said.
There are currently fewer than 100 soldiers on the ground, said Army
spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom.
2011 10:05 (JST): U.S. Red Cross chief making sure money
going to right places - The head of the American Red
Cross, who has visited earthquake zones in Haiti and China, said
Thursday at the headquarters of the Japanese Red Cross Society that she
was overwhelmed by the "miles and miles" of devastation along Japan's
tsunami-battered northeastern coast.
Wrapping up a four-day visit to Japan, ARC president &
CEO Gail McGovern said the $187 million received in donations and
pledges from the American public for tsunami relief is being used
initially to buy essential household appliances like refrigerators,
washing machines, & rice cookers for people who lost
their homes and are now living in temporary housing. The
project is being funded by contributions from the global Red Cross
In the initial relief phase, U.S. donations also helped the Japanese
Red Cross provide medical care for thousands of people, relief items
like blankets and helped people find missing loved ones. (Source: Japan
Gail McGovern (AP photo)
2011 7:55 (JST): Gov't warns of risk from quake-caused
subsidence - Japan's land ministry has found that areas of
land below-sea-level in the Sendai plain, Miyagi Prefecture, have
increased 5-fold after the March 11th earthquake.
It warns that these areas are highly vulnerable to flooding from high
tides and typhoons.
The ministry on Thursday released the findings of its aerial probe
using an ultra-sensitive, laser-equipped camera to check subsidence
across the Sendai plain. The areas below sea level, shown in blue on
the released map, spanned 16 square kilometers.
Before the quake, the plain had only 3 square kilometers of such
low-lying areas. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
Before/after below-sea-level maps
2011 5:15 (JST): Japan Tourists Shun Hawaii as Quake Slows
Golden Week Travel -
Machiko Takemura, a housewife in Kawasaki City, near Tokyo, booked a
Golden Week holiday to Hawaii on March 11, hours before an earthquake
Takemura, 30, planned to visit the U.S. state with her husband
and baby son during Golden Week, a run of four Japanese holidays in a
week, beginning tomorrow. Japanese tourists, who account for
about 20 percent of Hawaii's visitors, have pared overseas trips since
the magnitude-9 quake, hitting bookings for Hilton Worldwide Inc. and
Starwood Hotels & Resorts World Inc. and forcing Japan Airlines
Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. to cut flights. Hawaii's visitor numbers
from Japan have slumped 28 percent this month, according to the state
tourism agency. More...
Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii
(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
2011 0:40 (JST): New video footage of tsunami striking Sendai
This video, which was just released to the media today, was filmed by
the Japan Coast Guard from the 2nd floor of the Sendai Airport and
shows cars, planes, helicopters, and even houses being swept
in only 4 minutes. Coast Guard members survived by seeking refuge on
the airport roof after the water rose up to the 2nd floor.
2011 20 :50 (JST): "Write for Tohoku"
- Write for Tohoku is a collection of stories about Japan, with 100% of
the proceeds going directly to the Red Cross to help the earthquake and
tsunami survivors rebuild their lives.
"The ebook contains stories of Japan from over sixty writers, both
Japanese and foreign. We share our memories of adjusting to Japanese
culture, experiencing the kindness of strangers, forming close
friendships, discovering the country's natural beauty, challenging
ourselves through new experiences, and coming to feel at home in
whatever corner of Japan we find ourselves.
We have two goals for this project: to raise funds for disaster relief,
and to share with overseas readers the beauty and warmth of Japan."
The pdf book costs $9.99. You can buy it here.
2011 16:50 (JST): Japan's household spending marks record
drop - Japanese household spending marked the largest
decline on record in March in the wake of last month's quake and
The Internal Affairs Ministry says households of 2 or more people spent
an average of 293,181 yen, or about 3,600 dollars, in March. That's
down 8.5 percent year-on-year in real terms.
There were drops in spending on a wide range of items including
vehicles, clothes, travel and dining out, but spending rose on rice,
instant noodles, canned food, and masks. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 14:20 (JST): Qatar to give 100 million dollars to
rebuild Japan - Qatar has announced it will provide 100
million dollars to help rebuild quake-hit regions in Japan.
The pledge came during a meeting between Qatar's International
Cooperation Minister Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah and Japan's Foreign
Minister Takeaki Matsumoto on Wednesday.
The Qatari minister expressed readiness to provide support to help
Japan rebuild as soon as possible. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 10:05 (JST): South Koreans rethink Japan earthquake aid
- In the past several years, ties appeared to
be improving between Japan & South Korea. Trade has boomed.
Movies, music and other forms of pop culture that were once restricted
have flowed more freely between the two countries.
So when the March 11 earthquake struck, Koreans reached out. South
Korea was the first country to send a rescue team to the disaster area.
The Korean Red Cross has raised $40 million, one of the largest
nongovernment contributions to Japan after the quake. The newspaper
Chosun Ilbo, which has often been critical of Japan and its policies,
raised $10 million. Then came a pair of thunderbolts out of Tokyo: On
April 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its Diplomatic
Bluebook 2011 detailing developments in Japan's foreign relations -- a
release that came just two days after Japan approved new school
textbook content. Both reiterated Japan's claims to the disputed
South Korean officials say they will not allow the territorial dispute
to dampen aid to Japan. But anger persists here. Donations for Japan's
cause have dropped off. One Seoul neighborhood even voted to redirect
$11,000 they had raised for Japanese victims toward the Dokdo cause.
(Source: L.A. Times)
WWII-era Korean sex slave condemns efforts
by the South Korean government to aid the Japanese
(Matt Douma, L.A. Times)
2011 7:25 (JST): McDonald's Japan to close a dozen outlets in
4 quake-hit prefectures - McDonald's Holdings Co. (Japan)
Ltd. will shut down about a dozen outlets among its 33 hamburger
restaurants still closed in the four prefectures hit hardest by the
March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster, its Chairman and President Eiko
Harada said Wednesday.
Stores that are unlikely to turn a profit even after their damage has
been repaired will become "a drag on growth," Harada said,
adding, "Customers are unlikely to visit outlets near the nuclear power
plant in Fukushima Prefecture."
Due to be closed are outlets in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki
Immediately after the temblor, McDonald's Japan suspended operations of
264 restaurants. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 5:10 (JST): Shaken Japan latches onto earthquake warning
app - An emergency earthquake warning from an iPhone app
lets subscribers know when quakes will come, where the epicentre will
be located, and how strong the shaking will be. The app, called Yure
Kuru, or shaking coming, was developed by RC Solution Co, a Tokyo-based
firm that specializes in providing disaster-related information
services, such as relaying warnings or letting people confirm the
safety of friends and family.
The app, based on technology originally developed by Japan's
Meteorological Agency and railway firms, was released in November 2010.
Prior to March 11, there were 100,000 subscribers. But now there are at
least 1.5 million, and the company has stopped counting.
2011 1:35 (JST): Japan's tsunami waves top historic heights -
Tsunami waves topped 60 feet or more as they broke onshore following
Japan's earthquake. Some waves grew
to more than 100 feet high, breaking historic records, as they squeezed
between fingers of land surrounding port towns.
The new estimates on wave heights from the United Nation's
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission show the biggest waves hit
the hilly harbor towns north of where the quake was centered. The surge
grew in between inlet hills to 124 feet high at the fishing port of
Koborinai. The U.S. Geological Survey said the
quake lifted and then dropped a slab of seafloor 50 miles wide and more
than 180 miles long. The force shifted the seafloor nearly 80 feet
westward above the quake center. (Source: USA Today)
Reporter is swept away by tsunami in port city of Kamaishi
2011 21:05 (JST): Farmers protest in front of TEPCO's Tokyo
More than 200 farmers brought two cows to Tokyo where they shouted and
punched the air Tuesday in a protest to demand compensation for
products contaminated by radiation spewing from Japan's crippled
The farmers from northeastern Japan wore green bandanas and held signs
saying "Nuclear disaster is human disaster" and "Stop nuclear energy"
outside the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of
the plant damaged in the March 11 tsunami.
Radiation leaking from Fukushima Daiichi plant - about 220 kilometers
north of Tokyo - has been found in milk, water and leafy vegetables
such as spinach from around the plant. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 17:50 (JST): 'Cool Biz' to be introduced 1 month earlier
in Diet - Lower house members will start wearing casual,
no-necktie clothes in parliament under the "Cool Biz" summertime
energy-saving campaign on May 1, one month earlier than usual, it was
determined Wednesday at a House of Representatives panel.
The Cool Biz period, which usually begins in June, will run through Oct
31, one month later than usual, to counter possible electricity
shortages in the wake of the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi
The House of Councillors is considering the same measures. (Source:
2011 13:25 (JST): Indonesian nurse working in tsunami-hit town
- An Indonesian nurse is working in a town hit by the March 11th
strongest ever earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan with a hope
to bring her
experience of caring for survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Suwarti began working at evacuation shelters in Yamada Town in Iwate
Prefecture after arriving there with her colleagues on Sunday.
The Indonesian nurse came to Japan in 2008 under a bilateral economic
partnership agreement. She passed a Japanese nursing examination in
March and works at the Red Cross Society hospital in Himeji, western
Japan. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 8:40 (JST): Work begins to remove boats sunk by tsunami -
Work has begun to remove fishing boats sunk by the March 11th tsunami
at a port in northeastern Japan.
The harbor at Yamada town in Iwate Prefecture is clogged with debris
and sunken boats, impeding the resumption of fishing operations.
On Tuesday, divers attached cables to the submerged vessels and a crane
lifted them to a barge for removal to a temporary storage site.
Some of the cables snapped, as the boats are heavy with seawater.
2011 6:05 (JST): Quake-hit local authorities place limits on
volunteer numbers - Nearly 90% of volunteer-staffed
disaster relief operation centers in severely affected Iwate, Miyagi
and Fukushima prefectures are limiting their intake of volunteers due
in part to difficulty finding them accommodation.
Some volunteer centers said they are shying away from accepting new
workers as concerns grow over traffic jams ahead of Japan's Golden Week
holidays from late April to early May.
Of 65 operation centers, 56 are restricting the participation of
volunteers, for example, by accepting only local residents. "We have an
oversupply of volunteers. It's even difficult to find accommodation for
them," a volunteer center official said. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 2:10 (JST): Governors demand transparency on Fukushima
case - Governors of Japanese prefectures that host nuclear
power plants and facilities are demanding the full publication of
information about the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Governors of 9 out of 13 prefectures hosting nuclear facilities held a
meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.
They said at the meeting that the central government's present handling
of the ongoing crisis cannot quell the concerns of local residents over
nuclear power stations. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 20:55 (JST): Grim work - Japan Ground
Self-Defense Force members search for bodies Monday in
Shichigahamamachi, Miyagi Prefecture. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 17:05 (JST): Thousands of 'volunteer evacuees' yet to
return to Japan - Thousands of family members who
left Japan after last month's earthquake had yet to return as of
Tuesday afternoon, even though lodging funds and allowances ended for
many on Monday, according to military officials.
Only 2,000 of the approximately 8,000 family members had notified the
military that they had returned, although officials said some likely
returned without letting the military know.
The DOD lifted the voluntary departure order April 15, telling families
they would stop receiving lodging and living allowances as of Monday,
April 25. Fisher said it was unclear how many of the others would
return or when they would arrive, although many tickets were issued.
2011 13:40 (JST): Govt was unaware of hydrogen explosion risk
- An advisor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan says no one in the government
knew of the risk of a hydrogen explosion in the initial stages of the
emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The disclosure was made on Monday by Goshi Hosono, who is a governing
party lawmaker and senior member of the government's nuclear taskforce.
Hosono referred to a hydrogen blast that shattered the No.1 reactor
building one day after the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake
and tsunami. The blast
occurred after workers began venting air from the reactor containment
vessel to reduce pressure inside. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 9:15 (JST): SDF personnel to have mental checkups
- Japan's Defense Ministry will provide mental health checks for
Self-Defense Force personnel engaged in the recovery of bodies and
other work in areas affected by the March 11th disaster.
About 100,000 SDF personnel have been sent to the disaster-stricken
areas. The figure is the highest ever for a disaster relief operation
by the SDF.
The ministry says some personnel are suffering stress-related mental
disorders after retrieving and transporting bodies. It says they may
develop symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
2011 6:30 (JST): TEPCO cancels 1,100 job offers, cuts
remuneration for directors - TEPCO said on Monday that it
would halve the salaries of all its board members, including the
chairman and the president, starting this month. Annual pay for other
executive directors will be slashed by 40 percent.
TEPCO has already asked its labor union to accept a 20 percent
reduction in annual pay for 32,000 rank-and-file employees. Both sides
reached an agreement on the matter on Monday.
TEPCO will also give up its recruitment of about 1,100 new graduates
for fiscal 2012 and sell off part of its stock holdings and real estate
to raise money. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 20:55 (JST): U.S. troops restore a train station, one
dirt pile at a time - On Thursday, 42 U.S. soldiers from
both Camp Zama and Okinawa and a team of Japan Self-Defense Force
ground troops arrived at Nobiru on a mission to clean out the train
station. By Monday they had finished clearing another station. The U.S.
soldiers are not construction workers. They are parachute riggers,
Patriot missile operators, mechanics and others who have been doing the
hard work of helping dig Japan out of its wreckage since March 20.
More, including photo gallery...
Photo by Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
2011 14:02 (JST): Abandoned farm animals -
Fukushima Prefecture has launched an operation to euthanize some of the
animals left in the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the troubled
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Six Fukushima officials, including veterinarians, entered the area on
Monday, the first day of the mission.
The no-go zone has more than 370 livestock farms containing 4,000
cattle, 30,000 pigs, 630,000 chickens and 100 horses. But many of these
animals have died or are facing starvation since their owners
evacuated, and some remain outdoors. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 11:50 (JST): Help orphans in Japan rebuild lives
- There are approximately 100,000 displaced children (according to Save
the Children estimates) as a result of the devastating earthquake and
tsunami that took place on March 11, 2011. If you'd like to help
children left orphaned as a result of the disastrous earthquake and
tsunami, Living Dreams and Smile Kids Japan, two nonprofit
organizations supporting children in orphanages, have set up a way to
help through Global Giving. Our project will deliver basic
necessities and services to help children regain a sense of stability
in their lives. We'll provide material support such as clothing,
footwear, toys, books, school supplies, and bikes. For emotional
support, this includes counseling and therapeutic activities (field
trips,Yoga, camps, etc.)
2011 10:40 (JST): Home Alone - A man talks on
his cell phone as he sits on a sofa among the rubble in an area
devastated by the March 11 strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami
in the town of Soma,
Fukushima Prefecture. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 8:05 (JST): Shinkansen connecting Tokyo with Sendai
resumes - The main railway line connecting Tokyo with
Sendai, in northeastern Japan, resumed operation on Monday. Service
between Fukushima and Sendai has started one and a half months after
the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The quake-hit Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train had already resumed
operation on two sections, between Tokyo and Fukushima, and
between Ichinoseki and Shin-Aomori.
The railway line connecting Tokyo with Sendai will expand to 44 round
trips per day as trains which were stuck at the depot near Sendai
station have become available. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 6:50 (JST): TEPCO map shows contaminated areas
- Tokyo Electric Power Company has created a map of radiation levels as
part of its removal of radioactive debris at the crippled Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO says highly radioactive debris is lying in some areas of the
compound. Radioactivity of 900 millisieverts per hour was detected on a
concrete fragment near the Number 3 reactor on Wednesday.
TEPCO's map indicates the number of milisieverts per hour at each
location. Debris removal will proceed more cautiously at highly
contaminated areas. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 0:30 (JST): 21 mini-FM stations help survivors in
disaster areas - A total of 21 mini FM radio stations
have obtained government licenses to operate as provisional
broadcasters, giving people post-disaster information in areas ravaged
by last month's strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The ministry is authorized to issue special licenses to municipalities
to set up radio stations to provide post-disaster information to the
local communities. Applicant municipalities can seek licenses without
official documents. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 20:55 (JST): SDF to conduct 3rd massive search operation
- Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the US military will start a third
massive search on Monday for about 12,000 people who remain unaccounted
for after the March 11th strongest ever Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The 2-day joint operation follows two similar operations earlier this
The SDF, US military, Japanese police, and Japan Coast Guard will
search coastal and inland areas as well as waters off Iwate, Miyagi,
and Fukushima prefectures. The SDF will provide 25,000 members, 90
aircraft, and 50 navy ships. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 15:20 (JST): Veterinarians to enter evacuation zone to
deal with abandoned animals - Agriculture officials said
Sunday they plan to send a team of veterinarians into the evacuation
zone around the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
to check on hundreds of thousands of abandoned cows, pigs and chickens,
many of which are believed to have died of starvation and neglect.
The government is considering euthanizing some of the dying animals,
Farmers in the area were estimated to have left 3,000 cows, 130,000
pigs and 680,000 chickens behind when they hurriedly fled the area last
month when the nuclear crisis started. (Source: Japan Today)
2011 10:15 (JST): You Can't Appreciate The Terror Of The
Tsunami Until You See This Video - The man who filmed this
in Minami-Sanriku at Shizukawa High School on the hill near his house
lost his home and cat, and hesitated until April 10 before uploading
this video for fear of traumatizing viewers with PTSD, similar to what
happened worldwide among millions of people after 9/11. But he finally
did so, hoping to share with others the horror of what they experienced
in Minami-Sanriku on March 11, 2011. Video shows people scrambling up a
hill to safety as the whole town washes away. And the audio is as
terrifying as the video.
2011 8:05 (JST): Tsunami-hit aquarium in Miyagi reopens -
An aquarium in Miyagi Prefecture has reopened about 6 weeks after it
was hit by the massive tsunami on March 11th.
The tsunami killed a pygmy sperm whale and headfish at the Marinepia
Matsushima Aquarium and damaged pumps and fish pools.
The aquarium in Matsushima Town repaired the damaged facilities and
removed mud dumped by the tsunami. It collected fish from other
aquariums around the country. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 18:50 (JST): Australian PM 1st foreign leader to visit
tsunami-hit area - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
on Saturday visited a Japanese coastal town devastated by the March 11
strongest ever earthquake and tsunami, becoming the first foreign
leader to travel to
the disaster-hit area.
Her visit to Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, accompanied by Japan's
Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, followed the deployment there from
March 16-19 of 75 rescue workers and two search dogs from Australia.
Gillard was briefed by Minamisanirku Mayor Jin Sato on how he survived
the disaster at the town's disaster prevention office building, which
was reduced to its frame by the tsunami. (Source: Japan Today)
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, accompanied by her partner Tim
Mathieson (to her right), holds baby Iori Sato, who was born in March
26, during their visit to an evacuation center in Minamisanriku, Miyagi
Prefecture, on Saturday.
2011 14:35 (JST): Jordanian, Thai doctors to arrive in
Fukushima - Doctors from Jordan and Thailand are to work
with Japanese doctors in Fukushima to assist evacuees suffering from
"economy-class syndrome" and other diseases.
Fukushima Medical University says a 4-member team from Jordan will
arrive in Fukushima City on Monday and another from Thailand on May
The Jordanian team includes a cardiovascular specialist and an
ultrasound technician and will stay 3 weeks. (Source: nhk.or.jp)
2011 8:10 (JST): Emperor, empress visit tsunami-hit
Kitaibaraki city in Ibaraki -
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko extended their sympathies to
evacuees and people working in the local fishing industry in the
coastal city of Kitaibaraki in Ibaraki Prefecture on Friday.
The royal couple's visit to a quake-hit city is their second after
visiting Asahi, Chiba Prefecture, last week. Five deaths were confirmed
and one person is still missing in the disaster-hit Kitaibaraki, which
is located in northern Ibaraki and neighbors Fukushima Prefecture where
a nuclear power plant has been crippled by the quake and tsunami.
At Otsu fishing harbor that had its quay wall destroyed by the tsunami,
the emperor and the empress faced the sea and made a bow. (Source:
2011 6:16 (JST): TEPCO won't be allowed to resume reactor
operations: Fukushima gov - Fukushima Gov Yuhei Sato said
Friday he will never allow TEPCO to resume operations at its Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the March 11 earthquake and
tsunami. "A resumption of plant operations must be impossible," Sato
told Masataka Shimizu, president of TEPCO, who apologized for the
nuclear emergency during their meeting at the prefectural government
After the 15-minute meeting, Shimizu suggested to reporters he would
step down at an appropriate time to take responsibility for the
Shimizu had previously tried twice to see the governor following the
outbreak of the disaster. Sato turned him down both times, saying on
one occasion, "The anger and fear of people in this prefecture have
reached the limit." (Source: Japan Today)
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