tv 2020 ABC September 10, 2021 9:01pm-10:01pm PDT
from abc news, "9/11, the day that changed america". here now, david muir. good evening. tomorrow marks 20 years since 9/11. tomorrow here, americans who lost loved ones the, survivors who got out, the first responders who answered the call, their bravery, their heroism, and tonight their wish. so many telling us they hope this country will pause to remember the pain of that day and the humanity that followed. one survivor telling me she has carried the burden that she survived and others did not only to realize she's here for a reason, to tell the story to the next generation. tonight, what they lived through, and their hope that
americans will once again come together. ♪ the morning of 9/11, it was warm. it was clear skies. it was a beautiful fall. >> it was a clear, beautiful morning. >> yeah, it was. i would walk past the fire department and so i could say hi to the firemen that i would see all the time. >> you were making breakfast for the girls in the kitchen. >> i was. we had gotten up early. it was anna claire's first day of preschool. >> i'm diane sawyer, and it's tuesday, september 11, 2001. >> i turned on the television to watch the news. >> we've got 60 degrees at dulles airport, 66 at reagan national. >> this was your second day on the job? >> my second day on the job, yes. reporting to the pentagon for work. it started out like a regular day. >> come on, stretch. come on. >> the president was in florida.
>> and that morning on 9/11, he was up early to go running. the president had traveled there to do an education event. >> how far did you go altogether? >> about four and a half. >> a perfect day in america. it was a glorious day. and the world changed. >> a ticket agent in portland, maine. >> i was working the first class counter. there was a couple of guys, they were in a big hurry. one shorter guy, his name was mohamed atta. he seemed to be in an awful bad mood. so i just said, well, if you don't get up there quickly, you're going to miss your flight altogether. and they just -- he gave me a sneer, and they both turned around and left. >> they would fly from portland, maine, to boston's logan airport. they would then board american airlines flight 11, and
15 minutes after takeoff, the hijackers were forcing their way into the cockpit. >> nobody move. everything will be okay. if you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. just stay quiet. >> i had just asked american 11, is that you, american 11? do you hear me? i was the first person to realize that a hijacking was taking place within our country. >> a total of 19 hijackers soon in the air on four planes, and flight 11 would soon be headed to the twin towers. >> my name is stanley praimnath. i worked at the world trade center on the 81st floor. >> the 77th floor. >> i was on the 90th floor. >> this feeling in you like, i'm on top of the world. >> they were over 100 stories tall. >> about 50,000, maybe more, people worked at the world trade center.
>> we were told that this building was so massive that it was built to withstand five helicopters crashing simultaneously into it without taking it down. >> we lost radar on him. that was about five minutes ago. he was 8 miles east of jfk. >> american 11 was flying down -- evidently down the hudson river. it was going at very high speed. >> we saw a plane right behind the empire state building heading right towards us. >> battalion chief joe pfeifer out on another call about to hear that plane overhead. 8:46 a.m. >> the plane hit almost directly
above me, three floors up on 93, ripping through the building followed by the exploding gasoline. >> this is at the world trade center, and there has been some sort of explosion. we don't fully know the details. there is one report that a plane has hit the world trade center. >> there's no way it was a small plane. just the -- the hole that i could see in the building, it was way too big for that. >> there is that thick black smoke now emanating from the building. debris falling to the street below. >> florence jones was in the south tower when the north tower was hit. >> i just sat down at my desk on the 77th floor, and when you heard that loud bang, the whole building shook. this pervasive smell of gasoline. i called my mother, and i said, go to the tv and tell me what they're saying hit the building. so at that point she said, you know, get out of the building. >> what did you see?
>> i was just looking at all the papers and people hanging out of the windows. and trying to figure out, where was the plane? where'd the plane go? and she says, it's in the building. then it really hit me why these people were hanging out of the building. and i was like, oh, god. >> we have fire on several floors. visible flames from the side of the building. >> every available ambulance you've got. >> 12 bravos respond to the world trade center. >> as we're going across the canal street, i am thinking to myself, jeez, i wonder how many people need our help right now. >> the plane severely damaged all three stairwells of the north tower. there would be no escape for the people trapped on the top 19 floors, and new york city firefighters were now racing into that building. >> last thing i told them was, they're trying to kill us, boys. let's go. >> 17 minutes after flight 11 hits the north tower, workers in the south tower see something. >> all i could see was this dark
shadow. i was like, what the heck is that? it was huge. >> the plane is coming towards me like this. and as the plane got to the closest 1,500, 1,000 yards away, the plane starts to tilt. >> 9:03 a.m. >> oh, my god. the next building just blew up. oh, my god, i don't believe it. >> that looks like a second plane. it was obviously designed to attack the world trade center. >> and that big orange glow that you see there, i'm in the middle of that big orange flame. >> everything rained down on us. >> every desk is mangled. the only desk that stood form is the one i'm under. my bible is on top that desk.
>> move! move now! move it! >> reporter: florence jones had just been on the 78th floor telling colleagues they needed to get out. she had just come back down to 77. the plane hit one floor above you. >> yeah. and i realized if i had stayed up there i would have been dead. what caught my attention was the fact that people that i knew were 100 and -- 100-plus stories up were hanging outside of the window, and i watched them. they were making a sign of the cross, holding hands, and jumping. to me those people were heroes. >> oh, no!
>> we saw what we thought was debris and realized it was people jumping. i can't do anymore. >> i'm sorry. >> they knew they were going to die, but they didn't want to die in that building. there just was no way other than to jump. >> reporter: you have talked about the respect you thought was owed to them in that moment. >> many people have said, i couldn't watch that. and i said, you really kind of owed it to them to watch that, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. >> reporter: and that bearing witness to what they were doing -- >> yep. >> reporter: that it was someone acknowledging the pain that they were going through. >> yes, i give them a lot of credit for doing what they did.
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into his right ear, a second plane hit the second tower. america is under attack. >> and then the real shock, the look on the president's face. i had never seen that look of gravity and concern. >> today we've had a national tragedy. two airplanes have crashed into the world trade center. in an apparent terrorist attack on our country. >> and that airline ticket agent already asking himself, was there anything i could have done? >> somebody said, tuohey, didn't you check in a couple of guys on that flight? i says, yes, i did. and i just -- i lost it. i'm thinking -- you start -- what did i miss? >> the hijackings occurred right when the fasten seatbelt sign goes off.
they bought certain seats in first class. they would go into the cockpit, kill the pilot and copilot, and then seal off the rest of the plane. and then they would turn off the transponder, which would make the plane essentially disappear into radar clutter. >> okay, now, let me tell you this. we have been looking. we also lost american 77, and they don't have any idea where he is or what happened. >> the third aircraft that was missing was american 77. >> this is dulles approach control. we're tracking a fast moving primary heading towards the white house. the white house has been advised. >> i looked up, and that is when i see the airplane that will crash into the pentagon. it's crossing the freeway, knocking the light poles down, so i would say it was no more than 25 feet off the ground. and went right through the first floor windows of the pentagon, just disintegrated. >> we now have a report that fire has been confirmed at the pentagon. >> this is gofer zero six, it looks like that aircraft crashed into the pentagon, sir.
>> when you hear that the pentag's been st9/11, there are 25,000 people that work there. >> that whistling sound from an airplane engine, and the fireball that passed right to the right of me as i'm still sitting in my cubicle. >> it was sheila moody's second day on the job. >> i could hear people for a few seconds. and then it was just a strange, eerie quiet. i got up and shook the embers off my hands. my back was burning. i was like, jesus, i don't me to die like this.me here for- >> chris bramen working in the pentagon, too. >> it was so dark, you barely could see, and it was just so incredibly hot. >> i hear a fire extinguisher. and then i hear a voice of somebody yelling, is there anybody in here? >> each of us would take turns yelling, come to our voice. we could hear the screams. >> and i said, we're here. he says, i can't see you. i says, i can't see you either, but we're here. we're in here.
so i started clapping my hands, and i was clapping my hands together as hard as i could. >> so they could hear you. >> so that they could hear us. i turned and i looked, and i could see some movement through the smoke. as i reached through the smoke, there was a hand on the other side. >> and that and voice, that hand that reached out to you in that smoke -- >> that was my rescuer that day. >> 20 years later, back together, in this room. do you remember that day reaching into that cloud of smoke for her hands? >> i just remember looking over and then grabbing her and then running her, as fast as we could, to where the medics were. >> sheila's hands covered in burns, and she has never forgotten what she heard on the radio. >> you could hear the communications that were going on coming across the radio, and then you hear, there's another plane coming. >> there's an aircraft coming. >> that's what i thought. >> everybody back! >> everybody back! >> there are possibly one or two more planes that have been hijacked. >> the entire area has been
evacuated, and this is a disaster. >> we would see just hundreds of people going down the streets, trying to get away from d.c. >> the president was raced to the motorcade, and it began a nine-hour odyssey. the president didn't know where he could go to be safe. >> fairly early on, the name bin laden started to be mentioned on our air. >> already we have some in the intelligence community pointing the finger at osama bin laden. >> the cia very early that morning, it identified the names of the hijackers because they had been tracking al qaeda. and they had photographs of people getting on the airplanes. >> right there on the manifest they saw names they recognized, known operatives who had long worked for al qaeda and for osama bin laden. >> the president says, where are we going? and i said, to barksdale air force base. he says, no, we're not. we're going back to washington,
d.c. i said, "mr. president, you don't want to make that decision right now." >> air force one had been in the air and out of sight for almost two hours. and at some point, we felt the aircraft go even higher, much higher than it had been before. >> the president was on the phone with dick cheney. and cheney said to him, just got a report that says angel is next. angel was the code word for air force one. that sent a shiver down everybody's spine. who's got the code word for air force one? ♪ smooth like butter, like a criminal undercover ♪ ♪ gon' pop like trouble ♪ ♪ breaking into your heart like that ♪ ♪ do the boogie, like ♪ ♪ side step, right-left, to my beat ♪ ♪ high like the moon, rock with me, baby ♪ ♪ know that i got that heat ♪ ♪ let me show you 'cause talk is cheap ♪ ♪ side step, right ♪ ♪ get it, let it roll ♪
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california! during a flex alert, let's keep our power up and running. set ac cooler and use big appliances before 4pm. then from 4-9pm reduce use and take it easy on our energy. sign up today. there is chaos in new york at the moment. both trade towers now, these 110-story-high towers, have now been hit. >> visible flames from the side the building. confirmed, we have fire on the upper floors of the world trade center. >> reporter: chief joe pfeifer,
the first to arrive, now coordinating the rescue effort inside the lobby of the north tower. >> the pilots of the police helicopters realized they couldn't land on the roof because of the smoke. so what that left us to do was to climb the narrow stairs and to evacuate everybody from the building. >> he would send firefighters up, including his own brother, lieutenant kevin pfeiffer. and brian clark on the 84th floor now coming down. >> we got to the 81st floor landing. i heard this muffled cry inside the 81st floor. help, help, i'm buried. is anyone there? i can't breathe. >> i'm trying to get up. i'm pushing the debris. i made a fist as tightly as i could. and my fist passed through that wall and the man grabbed my fist. and he pull with such force. >> he landed on top of me. >> and this good man put his hand around my shoulder and he says, come on, buddy. let's go home. we had 80 floors to go. >> reporter: now you know you have to get out? >> yes, we started running. when we got into the stairwell, there was so much smoke we had to kind of hold hands, hold on to somebody's shirt in front of
us so that we could see where we were going. and i was like, we need to keep going. we have to keep going. >> reporter: they see the firefighters going up. and they asked us where we came from and we said, 77. and they were like, jesus. i was like, i don't know what to tell you. i wouldn't go up there. >> reporter: on the 83rd floor of the north tower, fred eichler and jonathan judd trapped. the fire just outside the door. >> i saw the flashlight of the fireman. >> the glass door was a godsend, because it allowed them to see us. >> as soon as i saw the flashlight, i ran to the door. i really think we only would have survived another five or ten minutes. >> reporter: in both towers now, workers in the stairwells trying to get out. florence and the offer from her boss. >> i had my shoes on, and i was really starting to shake and i just couldn't control it.
and he said, florence, take your shoes off because otherwise you're going to fall. so i gave him my shoes, i gave him my handbag, and the other gentleman, he stayed next to me and held my hand all the way down. >> reporter: of the last 25 people out of that tower, you were number 18. >> i knew we were amongst the last people to come out of there. i just feel i'm very fortunate to have made it out. >> reporter: air traffic controllers still trying to track down every plane. >> i ordered all aircraft in the air to land at the nearest airport. >> command center has implemented a nationwide ground stop for all arrivals and departures. >> and praying that there wasn't going to be another one. of course there was another one, united 93. >> reporter: they hear sounds of a struggle from flight 93. >> negative contact we're looking at, united 93. >> hey! >> mayday mayday!
>> as the morning continued -- >> both towers have been hit by planes now in the last half hour. >> i began to think about where tom may be. >> reporter: onboard flight 93, the hijackers with a message for the passengers. >> ladies and gentlemen, here the captain. please sit down, keep remaining seating. we have a bomb on board. >> reporter: you were actually on the phone with his mother when he clicks in, and he says to you -- >> i'm on united airlines flight 93, newark to san francisco, and the airplane has been hijacked. the hijackers were trying to get into the cockpit, and they had already knifed a guy. >> mayday! mayday! get out of here! mayday! get out of here! >> and he told me to call the authorities and he hung up. >> reporter: at what point do you tell him what you're watching play out on that kitchen tv? >> while i was talking to the fbi, tom called a second time. and at that point, i told him that there were other hijackers, there were other planes. he wanted to know who the
hijackers were, what did they want. >> united 93 just reported that they heard screaming on the frequency and that people have a bomb on board. >> and the moment you tell him that you've now watched two planes go into the world trade center -- >> he immediately knew that it was a suicide mission. >> reporter: other passengers start calling their families too. lauren grandcolas was three months pregnant. >> it was, jack, pick up sweetie. okay, there's a little problem on the plane. >> reporter: flight attendant sandy bradshaw calling her husband, phil. >> she was telling me how -- her flight had just been hijacked by three guys with knives. and they were boiling water to throw on them. >> he said that he was putting a plan together to take back the airplane, that there was a group of them. he told me they were waiting until they were over a rural area. i just remember being an old flight attendant, that training
kicked in, and i just said, you need to sit down, be still, be quiet, and not draw attention to yourself. >> reporter: and when you told him as a previous flight attendant yourself to stay in your seat and not draw attention to yourself, did you suspect even in saying that, that was not going to work? >> i knew as the words were coming out of my mouth that it was the wrong thing to say because he yelled back into the phone. he said, no. no. if they are going the drive this plane into a bill, we're going to do something. >> reporter: they had a plan. >> had a plan. >> if american jet fighters were to encounter another hijacked airliner would they shoot down a civilian loaded airliner? >> that was a conversation that took place, so the decision was made, and the president gave the authorization to shoot down civilian aircraft. >> lives in the air to save lives on the ground.
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white house was being evacuated. we learned that the entire airspace had been shut down. we also learned that flight 93 was still airborne. >> united 93, united niner-three, do you hear cleveland? >> tom called a third time and it was really in that phone call that i realized that there was nothing i could do or say. he was going to go after the hijackers. >> reporter: they were defending their country. >> i think they were defending everything that's good about humanity. >> reporter: in those final moments, loved ones on flight 93 calling home. >> she finished her message with, i love you. please tell my family i love them, too. >> she told me to raise the kids right, and, uh, i told her that i wanted to do it with her and that she needed to come home. and then we got to talking about how much we loved each other.
and she said, phil, everyone's running to first class. i've got to go. bye. >> reporter: flight attendant ceecee lyles leaves a message for her husband, lorne. >> please tell my children that i love them very much. and i'm so sorry, babe. i don't know what to say. there's three guys, they've hijacked the plane. i'm trying to be calm. we're turned around, and i've heard that there's planes that's been -- been flown into the world trade center. i hope to be able to see your face again, baby. i love you. dwoob good-bye. >> reporter: when you heard the cockpit recorder -- >> tom's voice yelling, in the cockpit, the cockpit, as if he was leading the charge. >> reporter: with those fellow passengers storming the cockpit. >> it's like a movie. it just never changes. wondering, what were his last thoughts? what was the last thing he saw? did he see the ground? you know, did he feel anything?
you just remember little things. the sound of the engine coming through the phone. the feeling of wanting to help him and knowing that i couldn't. >> reporter: 10:03 a.m, united flight 93 crashes outside shanksville, pennsylvania. >> do you see any activity on your right side, smoke or anything like that? >> we do have a smoke puff now at about, oh, probably 2:00. it appears to be just a dark cloud like a puff of black smoke. >> the engines had gone down through the woods. >> reporter: shanksville volunteer fire chief, terry shaffer. >> there were so many small pieces broken up, the size of your fist or less. it was just unbelievable. >> the policeman who was assigned to my home came to me and said, i think that was your
husband's plane. and i just remember my knees buckling. i just fell. >> reporter: 20 years later, you remember that. >> i remember it so well. the emotion of it. i said everything i needed to say. >> reporter: which was? >> i love you. >> we had a crash near pittsburgh here today. >> i remember the vice president calling the pentagon and saying, did you shoot down an airliner? and they kept saying, we can't confirm. and he kept saying, you must know if you shot down a civilian airliner. but of course, it was the plane that had gone into that field in pennsylvania, because those very brave passengers were determined not to let it attack again.
>> that morning, things were happening very quickly. it was only 56 minutes between the impact of the south tower and the collapse. >> stanley and i, we got on the west side of trinity church, and all you could see was the south tower. >> and as we stood there, we're seeing this building in smoke, and the building is swaying. and i'm like, it's going. >> i said, there's no way. that's a steel structure. and i didn't even finish that sentence. >> a huge explosion now raining debris on all of us. we better get out of the way! >> i was standing in the north tower. at 9:59, i heard a loud rumbling sound. and i had about one second, maybe two at the tops, to make a decision what to do.
and moved and pushed some people in front of me to a little alcove off the lobby. then the lobby goes completely black, where i can't see the hand in front of my face. [ crying ] >> it's gone! the whole tower! it's gone! holy crap! >> there were gasps and screams that i could hear from the street. >> the second building that was hit by the plane has just completely collapsed. the entire building has just collapsed. >> my god. >> it folded down on itself, and it is not there any more. the whole building has collapsed.
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>> the north -- the north tower is leaning? >> reporter: still inside the north tower, captain jay jonas can feel the building sway. >> i got a couple of feet away from the stairway door, and it starts. the collapse of the north tower with us still inside. >> reporter: fire chief rich picciotto. >> and then, all of a sudden, there's no stairs. and i'm just freefalling in blackness. so my thoughts were, please, god, make it quick. because it's going to be over in a split second. and all of a sudden, black, nothing. and i thought i was dead. >> reporter: the collapse suffocating the city for blocks. >> everybody get out! we had a collapse of the second tower! ugent, urgent! >> miss, get in here. get away from the blast.
don't open -- >> here it comes. get behind. >> oh, my god. oh, my god. oh, my god! you're right. oh, my god, you saved my life. [ crying ] >> ma'am. >> i'm just tired. >> thousands of tons of debris on top of us. this is a crypt. we're never getting out. >> there were beepings everywhere. later i found out that first responders carry locators, and they were going off everywhere. >> reporter: somewhere in that debris, captain jay jonas and his team. when suddenly, they see a piece of the sky. >> and all of a sudden, a ray of sunshine hit the stairway. and i looked up and could see, like, a little sliver of blue sky.
i said to the guys, i says, guys, there used to be 106 floors over our heads. now i see sunshine. so i think we're on top of the world trade center. >> reporter: 16 people would survive on a small part of the stairwell still standing. >> i just shake my head. i says, i can't believe i'm here. >> we lost a lot of people. we lost 343 firemen that day. >> 23 new york city police officers were killed, and 37 port authority police officers were killed. >> what brought these two skyscrapers to crash to the ground? >> it was the fuel that started fires on multiple floors. it started to weaken the steel columns. it pulled the outside of the building in and caused the progressive collapse. >> both trade towers have now been attacked and destroyed.
so if you're a parent, you got a kid in some other part of the country, call them up. >> inside the cabin of air force one, there was a television, and the president is watching, and we watched the towers collapse. just helplessness, because all we could do was watch. the president was alone, just standing there in silence, just staring at that picture of the collapsed towers. >> reporter: the president returns to washington. >> he's leaning over. on the left side of the plane, you can see the fighter jets. and out of the right side of the plane, you can see the plume of smoke still rising from the pentagon. >> and he said, to nobody, outloud, the mightiest building in the world is on fire. that's the face of war in the 21st century. terrorists against a superpower. >> today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. the search is under way for those who were behind these evil acts. we will make no distinction
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>> reporter: do you see your husband in your girls every day? >> i do see tom in each of the girls. halley has his drive and determination. anna claire has his wit. madison has his practicality. they are their father's legacy, and they are my joy. >> and this is my great niece. adriana jon. she's named after her grandfather. >> reporter: and a new grandbaby 21 days ago. >> yes, yes, another blessing. >> reporter: do you think about all the milestones missed by the people who shared that office? >> you think about every graduation and weddings, babies,
and the impact of one life being taken leaves a hole in the lives of so many people. >> i ask myself many, many times, "lord, why me? of all these good men and women, why me?" >> reporter: florence asks that question, too. we have followed her for nearly 20 years, and we will never forget seeing those reflecting pools for the first time. >> wow. >> reporter: the names of the fallen etched in bronze, and florence's friend, jill maurer-campbell. >> i always remember jill's smile. i try never to think about the way shedied. as a company, we were very, very close. we all knew jill. >> reporter: and now 20 years later --
a phone call from jill's son. >> oh. i was so happy to talk to him. the first things out of his mouth was, can you tell me something about my mom? and i said, you know what? your mother's biggest smile that i remember was the day she brought you into the office. and i said, your mom was a very -- she was a good person. she worked really hard. but her biggest pride and joy was being your mom. and i said, she'd be very proud of you. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine a child who never knew his mom calling you up nearly 20 years later and saying, can you please tell me something about my mom? >> this young mother didn't get to do the job she wanted to do the most. and i thought it was ironic, because i don't have children. i was like, if i could change places with your mom, i would
have. >> reporter: hey, jake. >> hi. >> reporter: and this is jake, jill's son. he was just a baby on 9/11. he's now 20, and he says florence has given him a gift. >> it was incredible for me to hear. just her smile. i don't know if it's because florence was the last person to see her and the bond that they had. just hearing that from her and just getting this kind of confirmation. the ability to make people smile is something that i've missed, but it's good to know that that's who she was, and i have a little bit of her in me. >> reporter: do you ask yourself, why me? why did i survive? >> you're not prepared for the weight that is put on you after this. you have to get past that and realize that you're here for a reason, only if it's to tell the story, to tell it to the next
generations of what happened. so i -- i have learned to handle the burden. it's not easy. >> reporter: and deena bailey, who says there were so many heroes that day. >> it's not just tom's story. it is the story of every person on that flight, coming together and serving the same purpose. and i think that that is the strength that we draw from that story of flight 93. >> reporter: 20 years later. >> 20 years later, 50 years later. >> reporter: as the country marks 20 years, what is your hope? >> i'd hope that people realize if you weren't around when 9/11 happened, you need to understand, we as a country came together. it wasn't about blue or red. it was about humanity, and we all cared.
i just feel we are tearing each other apart, and we need to stop. we need to realize this could happen again. it really could. and then what are we going to do? >> you have to stand up and say, let's do this. we can do this. we're going to do this. you can't wait for someone else to take that lead. take it yourself. >> reporter: remember their sacrifice. >> remember. remember. their remarkable strength, their courage, so many who bravely shared their stories with us and of course their hope that america remembers and we
come together. now diane sawyer with one extraordinary hour of hope through the eyes of the children who never knew their fathers and the resilient mothers who raised them. ♪ you're going to live forever in me ♪ now, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, diane sawyer reunites with the children whose fathers died that day. >> i would just want one day. i think that's all i would ever want. >> i think i would let him know we're happy, but he already knows that. >> the babies she first met two decades ago. now those mothers, those families. >> she's like the strongest person i've ever met. >> i love you, buddy. >> their resilience, strength, and love. >> mom's our superhero. i'm not going to cry. >> you're a good kid. >> young adult. asteri asterisk. ♪ you're
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