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Zoonar/Thinkstock(DOMBIVLI, India) — Three people were killed and dozens more were injured in an explosion at a chemical factory in India this morning, officials said.

Officials said the blast, which happened around 11:30 a.m. local time in Dombivli -- roughly 20 miles outside Mumbai -- was so loud that companies nearby felt the vibrations even as residents complained that their window panes were shattered.

Fire crews worked to put out the blaze triggered by the explosion. The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals.

Police said they sealed the area around the company where the blast took place.

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Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(ISE, Japan) — President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited one of Japan's holiest sites Thursday, just a day after their awkward joint-press conference.

The president and prime minister strolled through the Ise-Jingu Shrine before meeting with other G7 leaders. The world leaders used shovels to plant trees on the grounds of the holy site.

It was a stark contrast to the icy reception President Obama received when he landed in Japan Wednesday.

Abe publicly lectured the president over the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman in Okinawa allegedly at the hands of a former U.S. Marine.

The president spent the rest of his days in meetings at the G7 summit, where leaders were expected to speak about terrorism, maritime security, and the global economy.

On Friday, Obama will travel to Hiroshima, becoming the first American president to visit the site where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.

"Our visit to Hiroshima will honor all of those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades," the president said Wednesday.

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TongRo Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Italian navy was called to rescue 562 migrants after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Wednesday, the BBC reports.

According to the BBC, the trawler reportedly overturned because the people onboard rushed to one side after spotting a rescue ship.

Five of the migrants were found dead.

According to the BBC, Italy's Bettica patrol boat threw life jackets into the water while rescue boats were sent. That same boat rescued another 108 migrants from a separate incident earlier Wednesday.

The BBC reports about 6,000 migrants trying to reach Europe illegally have been rescued from poorly built rafts in the Mediterranean in just the past few days.

Aid agencies say crossing the sea between Libya and Italy is the main route for migrants to take after a European Union deal with Turkey docked the number of migrants using the Aegean to get to Greece, according to the BBC.

About 700 migrants have died, which is the largest single loss of life in the Medterranean in decades, the BBC reports.

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Christophe Chammartin/ SI2 via Getty Images(LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa.) -- Solar Impulse, the lightweight solar-powered airplane being flown by two pilots on a journey around the world, hit a milestone Wednesday afternoon after successfully crossing the United States.

Swiss adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg take turns flying the one-seater airplane, which is solely powered by the sun's energy. Piccard spoke to ABC News from the cockpit Wednesday as he made the 400-mile journey from Dayton, Ohio, to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, where he said he expects to land around 9 p.m. ET.

"When I heard the air traffic controller from New York, I thought, 'Wow, we have crossed the United States. We are arriving now on the East Coast, coming from Hawaii through San Francisco, Phoenix, Tulsa, Dayton,'" he told ABC News. "That is so great. We are very happy."

Fantastic moment. I just got in touch with Air Traffic Control of New York Center. We've crossed the USA!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8ssCXu2AO8

— Bertrand PICCARD (@bertrandpiccard) May 25, 2016

The final American leg will include Borschberg flying from Pennsylvania and past the Statue of Liberty before landing in New York ahead of a grueling transatlantic flight. Compared to what is ahead, Piccard said today's flight "is not very technical because it is short."

"I took off in the night at 4 in the morning to avoid the bad weather coming through Dayton," he said. "I will arrive a little bit too early over Lehigh Valley and I will start now holding. That means to wait for several hours until the wind decreases and then I will land after 9 p.m. tonight."

Solar Impulse is able to fly day and night because of the solar energy is stored in batteries on the aircraft. The duo expect to complete their around-the-world journey this summer in Abu Dhabi. While the project is designed to raise awareness about clean energy, it's also provided some memorable personal moments.

"As the promoter of the message of Solar Impulse, it was the most fantastic moment for me when I could speak live to the General Assembly of the United Nations from the cockpit of Solar Impulse and speak about clean technologies. That was fantastic for me," Piccard said.

As an explorer, Piccard said his most memorable moment thus far was when he was crossing the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco.

"I was in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night, alone in the plane and I was just really happy because this is the world I love," he said. "This is the world of exploration. You get out of your comfort zone, you explore the unknown. You are pushing the limits and you discover what you have inside of yourself."

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NASA/CXC/STScI(NEW YORK) -- Scientists may have unraveled the mystery of what creates supermassive black holes.

Giant black holes are at the heart of almost every large galaxy and are so large some are billions of times the mass of the sun. They were formed around 13 billion years ago, less than one billion years after the formation of the universe, according to NASA.

Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists determined a collapsing cloud of gas may have been the catalyst for forming supermassive black holes, creating black hole seeds. As a result, the black holes were able to skip the intermediate steps in the growth process.

If the new research holds up, it would provide the clearest explanation yet as to how black holes may have come into existence and another possible mechanism for how the mysterious celestial objects came to be. Other theories for growth include smaller black holes merging and pulling in gas from surrounding objects.

Fabio Pacucci, a researcher from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa Italy, led the study. Pacucci said his team was able to use long-exposure images from the space observatories to pinpoint the locations of two probable black hole seeds estimated to have formed within the first billion years following the Big Bang.

The research suggests supermassive black holes were simply born big and grew at a normal rate as opposed to another theory that black holes start small and quickly expand.

"Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born," Pacucci, a said in a statement. “We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps."

While the development is exciting, the researchers need more time to validate their findings and will now focus on getting more data on the two black hole seeds and hope to pinpoint more black holes that may be the result of a direct collapse.

“Black hole seeds are extremely hard to find and confirming their detection is very difficult,” Andrea Grazian, a co-author of the paper said in the same statement. “However, we think our research has uncovered the two best candidates to date.”

The complete findings of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot held prisoner by Russia for almost two years, returned home to Kiev Wednesday following a dramatic prisoner swap for two captured Russian soldiers.

Her release removes a source of tension between Russia and Ukraine, and led some to hope it could help efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, though relations between the two countries remain deeply hostile.

Following weeks of negotiations, Savchenko was abruptly released from prison in southern Russia straight onto a Ukrainian government plane and flown to Kiev, where she emerged to a hero’s welcome. Meanwhile, two Russian special forces officers were simultaneously flown hurriedly to Moscow hours after they were pardoned by Ukraine's president.

President Petro Poroshenko met Savchenko at Kiev’s Boryspil airport, where she was mobbed by journalists. In Moscow, the two soldiers were greeted on the runway by their wives, in a carefully controlled scene filmed by state television.

Savchenko’s release is significant because it removes a symbolic sticking point between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the United States and the European Union, which could help Moscow to push for sanctions to be eased. It also clears at least one obstacle to finding a more final peace settlement for eastern Ukraine, though few expect the release will lead to much progress immediately.

For Ukraine, though it was celebrated as a major symbolic victory in the country’s conflict with Russia, which two years ago launched a covert war in support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Savchenko has become a national hero in Ukraine, with her face plastered across the country.

The 35-year-old pilot was captured by the Moscow-backed rebels in the east while fighting in June 2014 and handed over to Russia. Earlier this year, a Russian court sentenced her to 22 years in jail for murder, convicting her of allegedly directing artillery fire at journalists.

The case was condemned internationally as politically motivated, with the E.U. and U.S. demanding Savchenko’s release. Savchenko went on a hunger strike, with her lawyers describing her as a hostage. The case was one of a number in Russia targeting Ukrainian citizens criticized by rights groups as show trials. Her imprisonment was widely considered by observers as a bargaining chip for Russia.

The two Russian soldiers released Wednesday, Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, were captured in eastern Ukraine last year and convicted of terrorism by a Ukrainian court. The two admitted to being Russian officers, but Russia’s military has denied they were on active service, saying they traveled to Ukraine on their own initiative.

The prisoner exchange was made possible after Poroshenko, Ukraine's president, pardoned the soldiers. Russian President Vladimir Putin also pardoned Savchenko, saying he had done so at the request of the relatives of the two journalists she was alleged to have murdered.

In a televised meeting, Putin thanked the journalists’ widow and sister, who sat silently, saying he hoped the release would help "alleviate the stand-off" in eastern Ukraine.

The return of the two soldiers was a tricky moment for Moscow, appearing to be a tacit recognition that they operated on Russia’s behalf. The Kremlin, though, has continued to insist that Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were volunteers.

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File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized today in the Mediterranean Sea, killing at least five, according to the Italian Navy.

Roughly 562 people had been pulled to safety off the coast of Libya, but there was a possibility the death toll could rise, an Italian navy official told ABC News.

Search efforts are ongoing.

The Italian Navy's Bettica patrol boat spotted "a boat in precarious conditions off the coast of Libya with numerous migrants aboard," it said in a statement.

The waters near Libya have become a hot spot for perilous voyages such as this one, as thousands of people have sought refuge from war-torn regions of the Middle East in recent years -- the bulk of whom are refugees escaping from Syria.

Amnesty International, a non-profit organization focused on human rights, estimated in February of this year that "more than 50% of Syria's population" was displaced as a result of war.

"One-in-every-two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year -- half a million people -- were Syrians escaping the conflict in their country," the report said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Taliban named its newest leader Wednesday, just days after U.S. drone strikes killed former chief Mullah Mansur.

Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, previously the deputy to Mansur, will take command of the extremist group, according to a Taliban spokesperson. The group released a photo of Akhundzada with the announcement.

Just hours after Akhundzada’s leadership was announced, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of a minivan in Kabul, which killed at least 10 people. In a statement, the Taliban said the attack was revenge for the executions of six Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government several weeks ago.

Wednesday's attack, along with the U.S. targeting of Mansur, signal little hope for peace prospects between the Taliban and Afghan government.

A U.S. intelligence official told ABC News the Taliban can either choose to double down on its military focus or choose to work toward reconciliation, a path which has failed to gain traction in the past.

The official said Akhundzada's appointment will have little affect on the battlefield -- aggressive attacks by the Taliban are still expected as this fighting season begins.

Who is Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada?


Akhundzada, 47, was the former chief of the Sharia-based justice system during the Taliban’s five-year rule over Afghanistan, which ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion. He is from the Noorzai tribe and spent most of his life in Kandahar city in the south of Afghanistan.

The Taliban also touted his background in religious studies and experience as a Jihadi leader, in the statement.

Taliban Acknowledges Mansur's Death


His appointment to the Taliban’s top position comes the same day that the group acknowledged Mansur was killed in a drone strike over Pakistan on Saturday.

The Pentagon said that strike was “defensive” because Mansur was actively involved in plots against U.S. and coalition personnel inside Afghanistan.

During a trip to Vietnam on Monday, President Obama confirmed Mansur was killed in a U.S. strike he had authorized.

The operation targeting Mansur appears to be the first “defensive strike" to have taken place inside Pakistan and required special negotiations under new guidelines for air strikes set last year. Pakistan has previously been accused by both the U.S. and Afghan governments of providing shelter for Taliban leaders.

"We can adjust authorities or take things higher up the chain of command to get approvals and that’s what we did in this case,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.

The timing of the airstrike had to do more with opportunity and location, to ensure civilian casualties could be avoided as much as possible, he said.

A Different Kind of Announcement


The Taliban’s quick naming of Akhundzada is in stark contrast to how the group handled past leadership changes.

They waited two years to acknowledge the death of one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who the U.S. had hunted for over a decade, and only did so after the Afghan government announced in 2015 that he had died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013.

Following that announcement, a senior Taliban official confirmed to ABC News that Omar had died in 2013 of tuberculosis and was buried in the restive region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

It wasn’t until Omar’s death became public that the Taliban officially instated Mansur as the new leader, although it was rumored that he was secretly running the organization for the two years that Omar was deceased.

This formal media announcement of Mansur’s death and Akhundzada’s appointment as the new chief marks a different strategy for the organization.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(SHIMA, Japan) — In a news conference where he was harshly lectured by the prime minister of Japan, President Obama extended his "sincerest condolences and deepest regrets" for what he termed a "tragedy" in Okinawa, after a former U.S. Marine is suspected in the death of a young Japanese woman.

"The U.S. will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation to ensure that justice is done under the Japanese justice system," Obama pledged.

Japanese police say Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old former U.S. Marine, confessed to stabbing and strangling a 20-year-old office worker on the island of Okinawa.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emerged from the bilateral meeting with Obama, announcing live on Japanese television that he raised a formal protest over the death that he says shocked not only Okinawa, but the people of Japan.

“I firmly launched a protest as the Japanese prime minister in regards to the most recent case in Okinawa,” Abe said right off the top of his statement. “The entire time for the small group discussion was spent on the specific case in Okinawa, and I feel profound resentment for this self-centered and despicable crime.”

Abe said he feels "profound resentment" when thinking of the victim, calling it an "utterly despicable crime" that Japan will investigate in a "rigorous manner."

"Japan was shocked," Abe said. "I conveyed to the president that such feelings of the Japanese people should be taken to heart sincerely."

Abe said the entire time for the leaders' discussion was spent on the murder case and urged Obama to “take effective and thorough means” to prevent a re-occurrence.

Obama emphasized that the United States is "appalled by any violent crime that may have been committed by any U.S. personnel or U.S. contractor."

"We consider it inexcusable and we are committed to do anything we can to prevent any crimes like this from taking place," Obama stressed. "We want to see a crime like this prosecuted here in the same way that we would feel horrified and want to provide a sense of justice to a victim’s family" back in the United States.

The Japanese have long resented U.S. military conduct off base, pointing to several incidents over the years of rape and criminal activity. The public airing of grievances in Japan -- the United States' closest Asian ally -- sets a tense tone for the rest of the trip that culminates in an historic "non-apology" presidential visit to Hiroshima on Friday.

A White House official said the president expected the case would come up but disputed Abe’s assertion that it was the sole focus of the meeting. The official said Obama and Abe also discussed coordination on the G7 scheduled for Thursday, as well as other bilateral and regional issues.


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iStock/Thinkstock(FLORENCE, Italy) — A massive sinkhole opened up on a busy Italian street Wednesday, swallowing some 20 parked parks -- and jaw-dropping spectacle was captured on video.

The chaos unfolded Wednesday morning in the center of Florence along the scenic Arno River, a popular tourist destination, but it probably wasn't the kind of scene that visitors were there to behold.

Water gushed onto the roadway after a major pipe breakage involving one of the major water conduits in the area, according to local reports. The powerful and steady stream of water quickly tore through the asphalted road surface, creating the 200-meter-long and 7-meter-wide sinkhole. That's 650 feet in length, and 23 feet across. It wasn't the river that overflowed and cause the damage, as it was earlier thought.

Crews evacuated the area as cleanup and investigations got underway. There were no immediate reports of injuries or casualties.

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JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam) — President Obama arrived to enthusiastic crowds at his final event in Vietnam Wednesday, a town hall with young Asian leaders in Ho Chi Minh City, where the president fielded some of the most colorful questions he's ever taken.

Eager crowds asked the president questions ranging from his marijuana use in his youth to where he sees himself in five years.

His focus was on connecting with young people, explaining their generation will change the world.

"Your generation can look at the world with fresh eyes without some of the old notions, the old habits of a previous generation," Obama said in the townhall with the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

The president later fielded one question about his marijuana use during his youth. A young Vietnamese man asked how the president transitioned from a youth of irresponsibility to becoming president of the United States.

"You never know exactly why something inside you clicks and you decide to take a different path," Obama said, explaining he struggled a long time with his relationship with his father. "I grew up."

The president even dropped a beat for a young musician who rapped for him.

Obama received a typical job interview question: "Where will you be in five years?"

"I'll be doing all my organizing work and involved in the public policy issues, but I won't be doing it through a formal way" Obama said. "I'll be a community organizer except a little more famous than I used to be," he joked.

Without mentioning any candidate by name, the president briefly weighed in on the state of U.S. politics.

"One of the great things about the United States is even when it makes mistakes it's able to adjust and recognize our mistakes and then we correct course and take different steps." He reassured the audience "things are going to be ok. I promise!"

Earlier in the day, the president met with seven Foreign Service nationals who served at the U.S. embassy in Saigon during the 1975 evacuation.

The town hall in the city formerly known as Saigon capped off Obama's historic three-day visit to Vietnam. The president is traveling to Japan where he will attend the G7 Summit. On Friday, he will make an historic stop at Hiroshima, becoming the first American president to visit the site where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.


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HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images(HANOI, Vietnam) — President Obama sent a message to the government of Vietnam Tuesday — make improvements on human rights in order to succeed as a nation.

He made his case in a speech to thousands in Hanoi, just one day after meeting with Vietnamese leaders.

"Nations are more successful when universal rights are upheld," the president said, saying countries prosper when they embrace freedom of expression, speech and assembly.

The president relayed the same message during a meeting with civil society groups. Obama said some activists were blocked from attending the meeting.

"There were several other activists who were invited that were prevented from coming," he said. "There are some folks who find it very difficult to assemble and organize peacefully around issues that they care deeply about."

The president didn't say who blocked the activists from attending, but did say this to Vietnam’s government:

"It's my hope that the government of Vietnam comes to recognize what we've recognized and what so many countries around the world have recognized, and that is that it's very hard to prosper in this modern economy if you haven't fully unleashed the potential of your people," he said.

Sitting right next to President Obama was singer and songwriter Mai Khoi — known as the "Lady Gaga of Vietnam."

She attempted to run in last week's National Assembly election, but was blocked from the ballot.

ABC's Bob Woodruff interviewed Khoi ahead of her meeting with the president.

"I use my music to influence the people to raise awareness in democracy and human rights," she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- More fallout for Russia and its athletic doping scandal.

The Russian Olympic Committee said Tuesday that 14 Russians who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including 10 who won medals, tested positive for doping when their samples were recently reanalyzed.

The news comes after the International Olympic Committee said last week that 31 athletes could be banned from the Rio 2016 Olympics after retesting 454 doping samples from 2008.

Russia's athletes are currently banned from international competition and are looking to still compete in Rio.

If the Russian athletes were to be disqualified and the medals re-awarded, several nations would pick up additional medals by moving from fourth place to third: The U.K. would gain two medals, Brazil 1, Bulgaria 1, Thailand 1, Spain 1, and Belarus 1.

Additionally, a number of nations would have their medals upgraded from silver to gold or bronze to silver. The United States is not among them.

Anna Chicherova, one of the medalists who tested positive, went on to win gold in the women’s high jump in the 2012 London Olympics, an event in which the United States won silver. She won bronze in the high jump in 2008.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Biodegradable plastics, often found in bottles and plastic bags, may not be part of the solution to ocean pollution as once marketed, according to a United Nations report published Monday, because they don't break down well in marine environments.

The report, written by the UN's top environmental scientists, says although biodegradable plastics were specifically designed to "be more susceptible to degradation," they won't solve the problem of litter in oceans because most plastic is extremely durable.

Plastics that break down in the environment were once thought of as an alternative that could possibly reduce the amount of waste in the ocean, but the rate at which they break down depends heavily on environmental conditions, the report stated.

There is also a lack of scientific evidence that biodegradation will occur any more rapidly than unmodified polyethylene, which is non-biodegradable, it said.

In ocean settings, the principal weathering agent is through UV irradiation, which is most pronounced on shorelines. Once the plastic is in the water, it is difficult to estimate the extent of biodegradation, but it is considered to be "extremely slow" due to decreased UV exposure and lower temperatures and oxygen levels, the report said.

The report also says that many biodegradable plastics require temperatures found in industrial composters -- around 122 degrees Fahrenheit -- "to breakdown completely into its constituent components of water, carbon dioxide, methane, on a reasonable or practical timescale."

And the report says that the biodegradable label encourages people to pollute.

The low density in plastics cause them to float, leading plastic debris and "microplastics" to distribute throughout the world through currents from the Arctic to the Antarctic, according to the report.

Microplastics, or particles of plastic less than 5 millimeters in diameter, are another significant problem plaguing the ocean. Most recently used for 3D printing, they're also referred to as "microbeads," found in personal care and cosmetic products such as toothpaste, cosmetics, cleansing agents and skin exfoliators. Last year, the state of California enacted a ban on personal care products containing microbeads, saying they get through typical water treatment plants and end up polluting waterways.

Large-scale production of plastics began in the 1950s because it presented "significant advantages" for food preservation, medical product efficacy, electrical safety and improved thermal insulation, according to the report. In 2014, 311 million tons of plastic were produced globally.

A trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has formed between Japan and the West Coast of the U.S. due to a significant amount of plastic, according to National Geographic.

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iStock/Thinkstock(GABORONE, Botswana) -- A camper in Africa experienced a too-close-for-comfort encounter with nature when she recorded three lionesses licking her tent while she was still inside.

Francie Lubbe was camping at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana on May 9 when she recorded the lionesses licking water on the tent leftover from a heavy rain the night before. The lionesses, inches away, were visible through the tent's clear mesh. Drinks and sunblock lotion can be seen on the other side of the tent, directly opposite the lionesses' heads.

The video was taken in the Khiding campsite, an area in the preserve that is famous for frequent visits from lions.

Lubbe was able to stay quiet and calm enough to capture the lionesses, who ignored her. On Facebook, she called the experience a "privilege."

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