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As it happened: Flood alert turns to Brisbane

Friday April 26, 2013 - 15:01 EST
ABC image
Cheryl McDowell stands outside her flooded home in Bundaberg, where hundreds of properties are going under. - ABC

Brisbane and Ipswich will flood this week, with floodwaters predicted to inundate 3,600 homes and 1,250 businesses in Brisbane, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has revealed.

Torrential rainfall continues to fall across central and southern Queensland but Mr Newman emphasises the flooding will not be as severe as in 2011.

The Army has deployed three Black Hawk helicopters to help with flood evacuations in Bundaberg, where the Burnett River has broken its banks and hundreds of homes and businesses will flood.

An elderly man's body has been recovered from waters at Burnett Heads, while a woman and a man are missing in floodwaters in Maryborough and Gympie.

Severe for regions stretching from central Queensland to the NSW border.



Look back at how the day unfolded. All times in AEST.





FEATURED UPDATE Here are the key details about the flood expected to hit Brisbane and Ipswich:
Bremer River at Ipswich to peak about midnight on Monday, and again late Tuesday.
Brisbane River to peak about noon on Tuesday, and again at noon on Wednesday.
Brisbane River flooding to affect about 3,600 homes and 1,250 businesses, compared with 12,500 homes and 2,500 businesses in 2011.
Brisbane River expected to peak at 2.6 metres, compared to 4.46 metres in 2011.
Bremer River expected to peak at 14.45 metres, compared to 19.4 metres in 2011.
are available from the Brisbane City Council website. The council's Facebook page has info on .
is available on the council's website.



11:31pm: Brisbane City Council has a detailed breakdown of this week, suburb-by-suburb.



11:15pm: While the focus remains on south-east Queensland tonight, the weather bureau has also issued for rivers across northern New South Wales, where heavy rain is continuing to fall.



11:09pm: An emergency alert has been issued by the Lockyer Valley Regional Council for major flooding of Laidley Creek and Lockyer Creek.

Anyone at risk of flooding should seek higher ground, the council urges.

Evacuation centres have been activated at Lowood Showgrounds and Fernvale Hall.



10:28pm: There are flood warnings in place for basically all rivers and creeks in south-east Queensland. You can find .



9:44pm: UPDATE on the situation with phone lines. Hundreds of thousands of Telstra customers across Queensland are without phone and internet services after a cable was washed away near Kingaroy.

The full extent of the damage is being assessed, but customers between Gladstone and Mackay are affected.

Landline, mobile and internet services are down and it is unknown when they will be restored.

QLD FLOODS: Telstra encourages customers to only use their mobiles in emergency situations. If 000 is affected, call local services directly





9:32pm: Gympie is also bracing for flooding, which could be worse than previous years. The Mary River is expected to peak at 21 metres at 9:00am in the morning. Here's the latest ABC News report.





9:29pm: UPDATE Bundaberg Mayor Mal Forman tells ABC Local Radio the Burnett River is at 8.2m and is rising at 10cm an hour.

He says many areas are already inundated and currently there are 350 people at evacuation centres.



9:10pm: Tonight in the Lockyer Valley, residents in low-lying areas of Grantham and Laidley are being urged to move immediately.

In Bundaberg, the Burnett River is expected to pass the 2010 flood level overnight.

Residents in low-lying parts of North and East Bundaberg have been told to leave their homes.



8:06pm: While the focus has shifted somewhat to what is expected to happen in Brisbane and Ipswich over the coming days, there are many in Bundaberg who are spending the long weekend at evacuation centres. Brad Marsellos took this photo:





8:02pm: Phone and internet services across northern and central Queensland have been knocked out after a major cable was washed away.

Telstra says it expects thousands of customers are affected, but it's still assessing the full extent of the damage.

A spokeswoman says the fibre feeds areas across north and central Queensland. It is unclear how long services will be down, but the affected cable is in a hard to access area near Kingaroy.

Optus and Vodaphone customers will also be affected.



7:41pm: Away from Brisbane, authorities are doorknocking homes in low-lying parts of Dalby on the Western Downs ahead of an expected flood early tomorrow morning.

Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown says they are expecting Myall Creek to peak around 5am Monday but they're not sure at what level.

He says an evacuation centre has been opened at the local showgrounds.

"It's a precautionary stage. We've got one arm of the system that's got water in it, so therefore it's very hard to predict the exact flow of water that will come into Dalby.

"But there is significant water upstream, that we're aware is coming out of the Bunya mountains."

Councillor Brown says authorities are trying to also predict a peak for Charleys Creek in Chinchilla and residents have been placed on alert



7:37pm: Another image submitted to ABC News Online, showing floodwaters in Brisbane.





7:27pm: Energex says 125,000 homes are without power across south-east Queensland, including in East Brisbane and the Gold Coast. They have warned there will be no restoration until tomorrow.



7:18pm: ABC Grandstand's Quentin Hull tweeted this image showing the north entry to Moggill Ferry on the Brisbane River. Earlier Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said Moggill would be the first area within Brisbane to be impacted by floodwaters late on Monday evening.





7:09pm: Here is the press conference Premier Campbell Newman gave earlier, detailing the minor flooding expected in Brisbane and Ipswich in the next 24-48 hours.





7:06pm: Here's another close-up of the newly released flood map showing areas likely to flood in Jindalee and Pinjarra Hills.





Detailed maps showing the areas of Ipswich expected to flood have not yet been released.



7:03pm: Water levels have begun dropping at Grantham in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane.

Mayor Steve Jones says there is flooding in the town and a swift-water rescue team is on hand in case it is needed. But he says the situation seems to be under control.

"There is a lot of water in Grantham. Certainly nothing like 2011. However if there is a substantial amount of water it's very much the type of flooding that we used to experience years ago.

"Most people have left their homes and gone to a safe place."



7:00pm: Toowoomba's Mayor Paul Antonio tells ABC Local Radio reports of a wall of water heading towards the town of Oakey are wrong.

"No question, there is not a one metre wall of water and is contained within the banks."

He says the rain is easing and the levels in some of creeks are actually falling.



6:54pm: Looking at the situation north of Brisbane on the Fraser Coast, the rain has stopped for the moment. But the major concern now is rising flood water in the Mary River - exact totals at this stage are not known, but it is expected to peak in the next 24 hours.



6:51pm: Here's a close-up of the newly released flood map showing suburbs likely to flood in Tingalpa and Wynnum.





6:46pm: Here's a close-up of the newly released flood map showing suburbs likely to flood around Hemmant Creek.





6:42pm: Here's a close-up of the newly released flood map showing areas likely to flood in Auchenflower and Milton.





6:37pm: Here's a close-up of the newly released flood map showing suburbs likely to flood around Breakfast Creek.





6.20pm: The Burnett River in Bundaberg is expected to pass its 2010 flood level by 1.5 metres overnight. Residents in low-lying parts of North Bundaberg and East Bundaberg have been told to leave their homes but Senior Sergeant Grant Marcus says some have chosen to stay.

"It will be very difficult for us to assist them."

Major flooding is also expected for the Mary River at Maryborough overnight.



6.13pm: Brisbane City Council has released new maps showing .



6.06pm: As Brisbane absorbs the news of expected flooding in coming days, the weather bureau has again warned that tornados similar to those that hit Wide Bay yesterday could hit south-east Queensland tonight.

"It's too hard to predict where and when they'll form but we can say that the environment is favourable for them to form," says forecaster Ken Kato.



6.01pm: Residents at Mundubbera in Queensland's North Burnett are seeing cattle and bales of hay being swept downstream. Mayor Don Waugh says about 35 families have had to leave their homes and are sheltering in the town hall.

"In a lot of cases, their furniture and effects are being removed from the houses as well, and they're being moved into storage at the showgrounds. The people themselves are taken to the town hall, where there's bedding provided and food for them as well."



5.54pm: State Emergency Service crews are attempting to rescue three people caught in floodwaters in the Tweed Shire in northern NSW. Two people are trapped in a vehicle with rising floodwaters in a causeway at Numinbar Creek near Murwillumbah. SES crews are trying to rescue a man in a car surrounded by water on a flooded road at Kyogle. And a man has managed to escape his vehicle after being caught in floods at Uki. Motorists are being reminded not to attempt to drive through flooded roads or causeways.



5:42pm: The Queensland Police service has tweeted the following emergency alert: "Laidley Creek is expected to peak at 5.30pm with major flooding to 2011 levels." The Lockyer Valley Regional Council says Laidley residents are well prepared for flooding. People in low-lying parts of the town have been asked to move to higher ground. Mayor Steve Jones says the creek upstream of the town has risen nine metres today and buildings have been sandbagged.



5:30pm: Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has provided details about a man whose body was recovered earlier today at Burnett Heads.

"The gentleman concerned had gone to check a yacht, in the river in that area.

"The yacht had broken away and my information is that during the course of trying to manage that situation, he has fallen overboard."



5:16pm: Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says on the basis of currently modelling up to 3,600 homes and 1,250 businesses will be affected by flooding of the Brisbane River this week. In comparison, the January 2011 flood inundated 12,500 homes and 2,500 businesses. He says, under this scenario, there will not be any flooding impacts within the Brisbane CBD.

The Brisbane peak was 4.46 metres in 2011 and this week the peak is expected at 2.6 metres. The Bremer River in Ipswich is expected to peak five metres lower than it did in 2011.

"It's worse than what we thought at lunchtime," Cr Quirk said.



5:05pm: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says there will be a "minor flood" in the Brisbane River and Bremer River. Flood maps of suburbs expected to be affected will be released tonight.

"The peak of the flood will occur in Ipswich, we believe, around midnight Monday. Similarly, the peak on the western side of the Brisbane City Council boundary will be around midnight on Monday. For people downstream in the heart of Brisbane, the peak will happen around noon on Tuesday. There will be another peak probably around noon on Wednesday."





5:02pm: The Lockyer Valley Regional Council has asked the residents of 12 homes in the low-lying part of Grantham to move to the local state school as there has been a rapid rise in Laidley Creek. Mayor Steve Jones says they do not expect a repeat of the flash flood that occurred two years ago, killing 20 people.



4:48pm: The weather bureau says ex-tropical cyclone Oswald is expected to move rapidly south through eastern New South Wales on Monday and be close to Sydney by midnight on Monday. Wind gusts of up to 140 kph are forecast for parts of the Northern Rivers, easing gradually during Monday morning. Damaging winds are forecast for the mid-north coast, northern tablelands, Hunter Valley and Sydney during Monday. View the bureau's latest .



4:38pm: Large parts of the Sunshine Coast are awash as Oswald continues to dump rain on region. The Maroochy River is lapping over its banks along Bradman Avenue in Maroochydore. Small boats are filled with water, a catamaran lies on its side and a sailing clubhouse on Chambers Island has water flowing underneath it. Petrie Creek in Nambour has broken its banks and is spilling through shops in Price Street. The main street is cut and a supermarket's undergound carpark is flooded. Parts of Nambour are also under water. At Alexandra Headlands and Maroochydore there's a big swell and strong winds hitting the beaches.



4:35pm: Several towns are isolated on Queensland's Fraser Coast, including Burrum Heads, Pacific Haven, Howard and Aldershot. The local council's disaster coordinator, Mal Churchill, says roads are cut by floodwaters but water levels are starting to drop in some areas.



4:31pm: In Brisbane, all CityCat and Brisbane River ferry services have been suspended, other public transport services have been affected and flooding has closed numerous roads across the city. Visit for public transport updates, or view the latest . Brisbane City Council has also established a '' showing reports of road closures and other information across the city.



4:19pm: Campers have been evacuated from Flinders Beach and Main Beach on North Stradbroke Island, off the coast near Brisbane. The Redland City Council says an evacuation centre has been set up at Point Lookout. All ferry services to and from the island have been cancelled for the rest of the day.



4:07pm: Lockyer Valley and Grantham residents have not been told to evacuate, Chris O'Brien reports from Emergency Management Queensland headquarters. He says some residents want to leave the area, which was devastated in the 2011 Queensland floods, and authorities are assisting them.



3:53pm: Helicopter crews have rescued three people in two separate incidents in the Wide Bay region this afternoon. An elderley couple had to be winched to safety at Pacific Haven north of Maryborough after their home was flooded. Rescue crews also had to save a woman clinging to a log in floodwater. She and her husband had been in a boat that overturned; the man was able to make it to safety on his own.



3:48pm: Take a look at our of footage of flood damage and flooding from around Queensland.



3:46pm: Our colleagues at ABC Sunshine Coast have posted a of flooding and damage in the region, including a shot of a at Mooloolaba Beach.





3:43pm: The Pacific Highway is closed at Tintenbar, north of Ballina on the far north coast of New South Wales. Police say a serious car accident has closed the road in both directions and diversions are in place. Drivers are being asked to avoid the area.



3:39pm: We've just posted video of Queensland Premier on the flood situation across the state.





3:38pm: Enoggera Creek has broken its banks at Newmarket in Brisbane's inner north.



3:30pm: The latest from the photo desk: at Owens Bridge just north of Tansey.







3:25pm: In the Lockyer Valley, which was devastated in Queensland's 2011 floods, the railway bridge at Grantham is cut and staff are monitoring creek rises in towns including Mulgowie and Laidley. Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones says it's "more of a situation where it's a normal Grantham-type flood rather than the one we had in 2011". A severe weather warning has been issued for heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 120 kilometres an hour.



3:20pm: On the Darling Downs, west of Brisbane, heavy rain and winds have dumped more than 200 millimetres of rain, uprooted trees and brought down powerlines. The Warrego Highway is closed just west of Toowoomba and several local roads are cut. Ergon crews are working to restore power to more than 7,000 homes and businesses. But the Toowoomba City Council says its creeks are coping with the rain. Heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres are expected to continue across parts of the Downs, Granite Belt and Maranoa and Warrego.



2:59pm: Take a look at the size of the ex-tropical cyclone Oswald system in .







2:52pm: The Bureau of Meteorology's latest says further tornadoes are likely and could cause significant localised damage. The heaviest rainfall is currently centred over Caboolture, north of Brisbane, and moving southward.

The BOM predicts 100 millimetres to 150 millimetres of rain in many parts of northern New South Wales through Sunday and Monday, with up to 250 millimetres in some parts. It very heavy rain and damaging winds.



2:42pm: From the photo desk come snaps of in Gympie and a in Gladstone.





2:35pm: Treasurer Wayne Swan tweets: "Two Black Hawks on their way from Townsville to Bundaberg now to assist with evacuation operations."



2:21pm: Police Minister Jack Dempsey says there have been 21 swift-water rescues, and five other people needed assistance escaping from flooded drains and similar situations.



2:17pm: Police say an elderly male's body has been recovered from waters at Burnett Heads, which was hit by a tornado at 4am today.



2:10pm: Premier Campbell Newman has just provided the following round-up of current conditions across the state:
Gladstone: At least 40 houses have been inundated around the region.
Bundaberg: Flood levels are expected to easily exceed 2010 levels. Evacuations have begun in Bundaberg North and Bundaberg East. Gingin and Childers are isolated. At least 300 homes and 100 businesses are expected to be inundated. Two Army helicopters are headed to Bundaberg to help with the flood clean-up.
Gympie: A 27-year-old man is missing in floodwaters at Widgee Creek. Flooding is expected in Gympie and the Bruce Highway is cut at Traveston Crossing.
Maryborough: Authorities are searching for a young woman who reportedly drove into floodwaters this morning. A tornado was reported at Burrum Heads at 4am today. Flooding is expected in Maryborough and a number of surrounding towns are isolated.
Sunshine Coast: Strong winds have been reported at Mooloolaba. Kin Kin is isolated and tens of thousands of homes across the coast are without power.
Brisbane: Very high rainfalls and winds of up to 130 kph are expected. There is a "very great threat" of flooding from local creeks and from high tides in low-lying bayside areas.
Ipswich: high rainfall and strong winds are expected; Kilcoy and Esk are isolated.
Gold Coast and Lockyer Valley: heavy rainfall and winds of up to 130 kph are expected.
With school due to resume on Tuesday, a decision about closures will be made tomorrow.



2:00pm: SEQ Water says it is releasing 1,100 cubic metres of water per second from Wivenhoe Dam, which is 88 per cent full. The Lockyer Valley Mayor is about to be briefed on current conditions, with a lot of water expected to flow into the region this afternoon.



1:54pm: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman toured tornado-hit parts of the Wide Bay this morning:







1:51pm: Three families remain stranded on rooftops at Widgee near Gympie. Floodwaters in the area are continuing to rise but winds are too high for helicopters to get into the area and all roads are cut. A father and son who were stranded on a roof at Sexton, west of Gympie, have now been rescued.



1:46pm: Residents have begun evacuating their homes at Gympie, where the Mary River is expected to peak at 17 metres this evening. Floodwater is expected to inundate homes and businesses in the city centre. The Bruce Highway is flooded north and south of Gympie and travellers are stranded. Emergency services earlier rescued two people caught in floodwaters at Widgee Creek, and a 27-year-old man remains missing in floodwaters.

Floodwater has already reached properties in Nambour, as from the ABC's Bruce Atkinson shows.







1.35pm: Firefighters are working to free four people who are trapped in a house at Lutwyche in Brisbane's inner north after a tree fell on the house. It is understood no-one has been injured.



1.27pm: Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has warned residents there could be tornadoes between 2pm and 8pm today, and asked them to prepare their homes and tie down loose items. Cr Quirk says the next 24 hours will see 100 millimetres to 150 millimetres of rain on average across the catchment, with some areas to cop as much as 300 millimetres. Localised creek flooding is likely.



1.21pm: Energex says more than 500 powerlines are down across south-east Queensland and nearly 56,000 properties are without power. It is likely to be tomorrow before services are returned to some areas.



1:15pm: Alice Brabazon outside Fernvale, west of Brisbane. Flooding in North Brook Creek has cut access for cars along Splityard Creek Road.






1:07pm: The Bundaberg Regional Council has released expected to be hit by flooding. The Kennedy Bridge which connects the CBD to the northern suburbs is closed. Up to 100 homes and businesses have already been flooded in Bundaberg North and Bundaberg disaster coordinator Senior Sergeant Inspector Rowan Bond says residents need to leave now.

"The gravity of the situation is very serious and we are trying to get the message out quickly to those residents at North Bundaberg."

Dozens of properties have also been inundated in Bundaberg East.



1:01pm: On the Sunshine Coast, several hinterland towns are isolated and weather conditions are deteriorating. Power has been cut to almost 38,000 homes across south-east Queensland, train services have been suspended between Gympie and Nambour, there are major disruptions to bus services, and the Sunshine Coast Airport is closed. Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson says numerous roads are cut and floodwaters are rising.

"We're anticipating things to deteriorate right through the afternoon and into the evening. We're seeing the Mooloolah area coming under pressure from rising floodwaters and in low-lying areas that traditionally are flooded with heavy falls. But over the next 24 hours, we could see up to another 300 millimetres and perhaps more in isolated pockets."



12:52pm: As ex-tropical cyclone Oswald moves south, flood warnings are also being issued for northern New South Wales. Flood watches for moderate to major flooding are in place for the coastal valleys from the Queensland border to the Lower Hunter, including the Upper Macintyre Valley. A minor flood warning has been issued for the Bellinger River at Thora. In Coffs Harbour locals are sand-bagging low-lying businesses and homes in the town centre. The SES says people living and holidaying in the region should be prepared for flash flooding.



12:49pm: Authorities have again urged people to stay clear of floodwaters and not put themselves at risk. This photo snapped by John Taylor shows in Brisbane's northern suburbs, a regular flood hotspot in the capital.





12:36pm: Bundaberg North residents have been asked to evacuate immediately to the Civic Centre at North Bundaberg or to friends and relatives. Residents between The Lakes, west of the botanical gardens and Mariners Way at the east end of Bundaberg North are being told to evacuate, with more than 300 houses in north Bundaberg expected to go underwater. Houses that don't go underwater will be isolated.



12:22pm: The ABC's Josh Bavas of a boat flipped over in the Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast. He says the river has breached its banks and a storm surge is pushing water across the road.



12:14pm: The Insurance Council of Australia has declared a Queensland-wide catastrophe.



12:13pm: The system is expected to be over NSW tomorrow and the state's SES is now preparing for rainfalls of up to 400 millimetres on parts of the north coast. SES spokesman Phil Campbell says this will likely result in localised flash flooding and river flooding on the mid-coast and north coast. Wind gusts of up to 110 kilometres per hour are also forecast. Parts of the northern tablelands and possibly the north-west slopes and plains are also expecting heavy weather.

The SES has had 270 calls for assistance and there has been four car rescues across the state from storm activity over the past 12 hours. A minor flood warning has been issued for the Bellinger River at Thora.



12:12pm: Rescues are continuing across Queensland. A woman has been winched to safety from a flooded creek near Biloela in central Queensland after clinging to a tree for almost eight hours. Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige says the woman's car was washed off the road into Grevillea Creek and she was rescued just before lunchtime. She was taken to the Biloela Hospital as a precaution. Mr Carige says police are becoming increasingly frustrated by drivers who are ignoring road closures on the Dawson Highway, where the woman was rescued.

"The police are pretty hostile about the whole situation. They've tried to stop them but vehicles keep going past the signs and they're entering the water exactly the same way this woman did."

Rescues have also taken place in Gympie, which will soon be isolated by rising floodwaters. Mayor Ron Dyne says residents have been caught by fast-rising water.

"At this stage there's probably two people at Widgee that are trapped on roofs, one at Sexton trapped on a roof. We're making every attempt to get to those people."

Emergency services earlier rescued two people caught in floodwaters at Widgee Creek. A 27-year-old man who was also caught in floodwaters is still missing.

Residents and business owners are being told to prepare for a Mary River flood peak of 17 metres, which will flood the central business district.



12:10pm: The worst from the flood disaster in Gladstone appears to be over but local authorities will meet again this afternoon to assess the situation. More than 900 homes have been evacuated as 8.5 metres of water goes over the spillway at the Awoonga Dam. Sub-stations in the area have been isolated for safety.



12:08pm: Authorities say the next 24 hours will be the worst for the Sunshine Coast, as destructive winds and torrential rain continue to wreak havoc across the region. The SES has had more than 200 calls for help, several hinterland communities have been isolated and power has been cut to about 30,000 homes. People are being urged to stay indoors. Train services have been cut between Gympie and Nambour, there are major disruptions to bus services and the Sunshine Coast Airport is closed.

Evacuation centres are open at:
Nambour Civic Centre, 60-64 Currie Street;
The J at Noosa Junction, 60 Noosa Drive, Noosa Heads;
Caloundra Indoor Stadium, Caloundra Road, Golden Beach;
The Nambour Showgrounds is open for caravans.



12:07pm: The weather bureau says the heaviest rain is currently falling between Maryborough and the Gold Coast. The system is east of Taroom and moving south-east at about 20 kilometres an hour. The bureau's Ken Kato says Brisbane is likely to be over the worst of the wild weather by tomorrow morning. But he says there is still a chance more tornadoes could develop.

"That's a definite possibility with this system. The environment is fairly favourable for them to form, so that's something we can't rule out."



12:03pm: The Queensland Government has requested Army helicopters to help as the state deals with major flooding. Soldiers are also on standby. Hundreds of homes and businesses in Bundaberg could flood as the Burnett River swells. Premier Campbell Newman has toured the tornado-hit Wide Bay this morning and says authorities are meeting to deal with the disaster.



11.45am: The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an for destructive winds, heavy rainfall, abnormally high tides and dangerous surf. It says destructive winds and possible tornado activity are expected to affect parts of the south-east coast district, the eastern Darling Downs and Granite Belt district for the rest of the day.

"Destructive wind gusts in excess of 125 kph and further tornadoes are likely and this could cause significant damage or destruction to homes and property in localised areas."

The heaviest rain at the moment is inland of the Sunshine Coast and just over the New South Wales border.



See how the morning's wild weather unfolded across Queensland using our .


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Flash flooding in north-west after Tasmania cleans up from 'tornado-like' winds

ABC image 20:05 EST Homes have been inundated by flash flooding in northern Tasmania just hours after the north-west was pounded by severe winds that left a trail of destruction and caused widespread power cuts.

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