V. Natural Disaster Management System

1. The Relief and Mitigation Efforts of Lao Government and NGOs

From 1975, since inauguration of Lao PDR- The Government policy on Social Welfare was to help after war Migration population to have permanent resettlement, to assist disadvantage group of people among its also who affected by natural disaster and the other to have food, shelter and some basic needs. These activities carried out by Department of Public Welfare within Ministry of Interior (MOI) of Lao PDR.

To prevent flood and migrate drought MOI mobilized Government and public resources for upgrading and building a damp water gate to Mekong, building water reservoirs drainage system in cities "A Free Labor Campaign" on building those subjects widely participated by Government public sector and community.

In 1980 the Committee Social Welfare and War Veterans had established and when the Committee resolved in 1987 the Department of Public Welfare had been transferred to Ministry of Health and also carried out the activities like when was in Ministry of Interior. The reestablishment of committee on social welfare and war veterans in 1990 -1993 had expanded the Relief and Mitigation activities. The joint project in Mitigation of Harm effect of Natural Disaster between Government and NGO's had started in this period. The Government annually allocated Fund Equivalent of 700,000 USD to help disadvantage persons and victims of disaster.

In 1993 the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) has been established. Since then the activities on Relief and Mitigation have more clear status. The social welfare department within MLSW is responsible for running project on Relief and Mitigation with NGOs partners in area which vulnerable to or had been effected by disaster. The activities of project focused on Mitigation of post flood affect such as repairing roads, canals, irrigation schemes, mobilizing resources for replanting second crop and etc... Social Welfare Department in the same time in cooperating with Provincial department of Social Welfare implemented by using Government and Donors Funds and Material Resources for Relief to the victims of Fire.

In general until 1997 action which had been taken by Government of Lao PDR with assistance of International Organizations, Donors Countries and NGO's focused very little to Disaster Preparedness. At that time, the perception of Government and community related to disasters such as Floods and Droughts as looking almost to the Natural Phenomenon.

Very often, in community, according to the tradition people are using supper power to explain the natural disaster which they had faced with. But in fact, a climate change issue, increasing of frequency of Flood and Drought, increasing and the causes of Fire, the fact of Environment Degradation, Devastation of forest, Land Erosion. The economic loss and damage from disasters especially from big floods in 1995 and 1996 put the Government and Community in new stage of thinking. In June 1996 when flood occurred in provinces it affected to more than 450.000 people and Economic lost was very high ・Prime- Minister Established an ad hoc committee in which complied of Ministries to deal with affect of flood - But still the main mandate of ad-hoc committee was concentrated again on Relief and Mitigation.

2. The Legal System and Structure of Disaster Management

Within the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) with the support of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), have been taken the responsibility in 1997 for the formulation of the government policy on Disaster Management in Lao PDR. The new approach emphasizes the role of the government in tackling disasters, the importance of Disaster Preparedness, Community-Based Disaster Management (CBDM) approach, the recognition of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction as a cornerstone of sustainable development and the coordination between community and government at different levels and strengthening community self-reliance. In line with the national strategy, the NDMO has developed a National Disaster Management Action Plan, which is broken down into three different periods (2001-2005, 2005-2010, and 2010 -2020). This Action Plan was advanced and approved by the members of National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) in line ministries and signed by chairman of NDMC.

A landmark decree No. 158, signed by the Prime Minister in August 1999, provide for the establishment of an inter-ministerial National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) as a policy making and coordination body. This organization started from central government called NDMC and down to provincial, districts and village levels. The NDMO is played a secretariat of the NDMC and has a key function to build coordination procedures among Disaster Management Organizations and with among Government Institutions, other agencies and stakeholders such as: UN, International NGOs and Organizations.

The NDMC consisting of representatives from 13 key Ministries:

1.  Minister of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Chairman
2.  Vice - Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Vice Chairman
3.  Chief of Cabinet Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vice Chairman
4.  Chief of Cabinet Ministry of Defense Member
5.  Chief of Cabinet Ministry of Interior Member
6.  Chief of Cabinet Ministry of Education Member
7.  Director of Budget Department, Ministry of Finance Member
8.  Director of Transportation Department, Ministry of
Communication, Transport, Post and Construction
9.  Director of Industry Department, Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts Member
10.  Director of Hygiene Department, Ministry of Health Member
11.  Director of Mass Media Department, Ministry of Information and Culture Member
12.  Director of Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Member
13.  Chairman of Lao Red Cross Member

NDMC roles and responsibilities are:

Diagram of Organization of DM in Laos

  1. Taking care about coordination and cooperation disaster management activities within country and outsider:

  2. In order to carry out these responsibilities, the NDMO has four functional units:

  3. Each unit is under the leadership of a Unit Manager. Currently about 12 staff are employed at the NDMO.
  4. Beside coordinating disaster risk management activities within the government sector, the NDMO is an implementing partner of the World Food Programme (WFP) and a number of disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation projects of International and Non-Government Organizations such as Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Care International, Concern World Wide, World Vision.

NDMO Diagram

3. Priority on Disaster Risk Management in Lao PDR

With recognizing that the managing the risk to disaster and reduction of vulnerability are essential elements of sustainable development. The priority for disaster management in Lao PDR is therefore:

  1. To develop a rational Disaster Risk Management Plan will focus on mobilization, deployment and coordination of National Resources and requests for international Assistance.
  2. To prepare Disaster Risk Management Plans at provincial, district and local level.
  3. To develop and train community level disaster response teams.
  4. To target the initial efforts on the risk management of floods and droughts.
  5. To focus on Capacity Building of Government officers and personnel of associated agencies from the community level to the national level and on community mobilization...i.e. motivating and supporting people to organize and take appropriate action to protect themselves, their property and their communities against hazards.
  6. To improve disaster preparedness through:

  7. To focus disaster prevention and mitigation on:

  8. To improve disaster response and recovery by improving emergency management systems such as command, control and coordination, damage and need assessment, relief distribution and "Food for work" rehabilitation and reconstruct programs.

4. National Strategy Plan on Disaster Management in Lao PDR

National Strategy Plan on DM is consisted of the works expressing in the general vision to 2020 which is broken down into periods as:

The General Objectives of the National Action Plan on DM to 2020 are:

Make Lao society safe and could be able to reduce the negative impacts of disaster to people lives, economy, state assets and people properties.

Establish the District Disaster Management Committee in all districts.

The goals of Action Plan on DM from 2001 to 2005

  1. Development of DM district level.
  2. Establishment of focal point (FP) and identify contact person (CP) on DM:
  3. Organization of Effective EW Systems:
  4. Building Storage:
  5. Continue of organization 2 programs on public awareness and education with media annually.
  6. Set up regulation documents on Disaster Management.
  7. Training Courses:
  8. Establishment of Special Teams:
  9. Produce Natural Hazard Map and determined Disaster Risk Areas in Lao PDR.
  10. Development of Information Center on DM:
  11. Organize 2 disaster mitigation drills per year.
  12. Disaster Management integrate to Urban and Rural Development Programs which aimed at coping of flood, drought, fire, land management, land erosion, water management, environment protection, forest and etc... and NDMO will be center on implementing.

5. Organization for Disaster Management

Disaster Preparedness

The Development of Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC)

At the provincial level, the primary responsibilities for disaster management rest with Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC), which were established in 2000 by the Prime Minister. Chairman of NDMC made order to Governor of Provinces proposed for establishing a Disaster Management Committee of Provinces, Special Region and Municipality Levels. NDMO coordinated to reveal departments in provinces for selecting appropriated candidate to Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC). In order to be able for future making decision on local disaster management activities, the members of PDMC should include important persons in the rank of directors or deputy directors of Provincial Departments based on Local Human Resources and Priority on Risk Management in Local. PDMC is chaired by Vince-Governors or Directors of Provincial Department who is also the member of Provincial Party Standing Committee Parallel with this NDMO helped PDMC identify the location for focal point on DM and contact person in provinces and assisted on draft cooperation and coordination procedure.

On development of DM organizations in Lao PDR in 2003, according to 158 govt. decree, NDMO with it's mandate has contacted DMC at provinces with advises to update the names of PDMC members (some change had been made : due to retirement, moved to other jobs and ect...)NDMC asked PDMC to hold meeting, NDMO through contact persons guided on drafting PDM plan based on Country strategy plan on DM to 2020 and Assignment for sector's representatives N.097. NDMC/ 30 June, 2000.

Currently, Provincial Disaster Management Committee at all provinces is setting up the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC), especially the district located at disaster risk areas, and some already established. In addition, in order to strengthening community capacity to deal with disaster, NDMO encourage PDMC and DDMC which already established to set up Village Disaster Prevention Committee. (These for Lao project proposal).

Capacity Building through Training and Workshop:

In case of Lao PDR the gaining policy support from Leaders or Decision Makers are also mean a gaining funding support for activities on DM. That's why to have this kind of power, NDMO's experience is to involve a Representatives of Mass Organization, Lao Youth Union, Lao Women Union and Head of Village and Officials in Difference Levels to joint activities - Since NDMO had established in 1997, many training courses and workshops on Disaster Management were conducted for government officials in all levels (central and local levels) such as - 2 information workshops, one national workshop, 16 provincial workshops, 1 workshop for Director of Media, 1 planning workshop, 2 Training of Trainer courses, drought and desertification combating and training courses for villagers with more than 1,000 villagers participated. In 2000, NDMO had initiated Training Courses on DM for Lao government officials in all levels Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) members in which invited also representatives from different groups of people for example: the course organized in Champasack Province, Sep 2001, number of participants were the village chiefs, in Attapue province 10 participants were Members of National Assembly (Member of Parliament) for Southern Region, in Bokeo province on the training course in April 2001, among participants were noble monks from different Buddish temples. Evaluation of activities on Public Awareness and Education for the year 2000 showed working with representatives had good impact on society, because they have had regularly contact and work with people and people listened to them. All those representatives were very enthusiastic talking and discussing widely with community on topics of Disaster Management and Environment Protection, on Land and Water Management, and Reforestation etc...

In recent year, from 2002-2003, training activities on Disaster Management were widely conducted for all levels in Laos with close cooperated with internal and external organizations, such as:

To chair on Training Courses organized by NDMO usually invited Chairman or Members of NDMC, Provincial Governor or Deputy Governor.

Working on Public Awareness with Media

In 2000 - NDMO organized 2 training courses on DM for Media Staffs and Journalist of Newspapers, TV and National Radio within Vientiane Municipality - 36 participants were attended. NDMC issued a certificate for all participants. NDMO signed MOU with Nation Radio and Lao National Television on Public Awareness and Education Programme. A question and answer on Disaster Management topics with awarding T-shirt widely participated by Youths from all provinces.

In 2003, NDMO organized training course on Early Warning, Public Awareness and Education of disaster flood for media staffs in National, Provincial television, radio and newspaper in the framework of cooperative project with Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC).

In the normal time, NDMO also close cooperate with media especially National Radio and TV to together implement the public awareness activities with aimed at road accident reduction and fire prevention. In addition, every year as normal procedures on preparation to meet flood during forthcoming rainy season, NDMO is increased it work with National Radio and TV for early information disseminating to communities.

Currently, NDMO have cooperated with National and Municipality Radio Station to implement Public Awareness Activities with the context of forest protection, impacts from cutting tree, fire awareness, road accident awareness and announcement of weather forecasting.

Disaster Emergency Response

Flood in August 2002

In the rainy season, agencies whose in charge of gathering information has closely coordinated with NDMO. National Disaster Management Office has got the data of weather forecasting from Meteorology and Hydrology Department, Mekong River Commission and getting news from international mass media. While data and information collected, NDMO will be providing through network agency of provincial disaster management coordinator which located along the Mekong River where prone to flooding. NDMO will be core agency of checking up information through media for instance: National Television Broadcasting, Newspaper, National Radio and Provincials located by the side of Mekong River.

Vong Phong typhoon which came from South China Sea made of heavy rain at up stream reservoir of Mekong River in August 14th, 2002 at Houaysai, Bokeo province. Flooded August 16th, 2002 Mekong flooded Luangprabang province and August 18th, 2002 water came to Vientiane and getting higher through tributaries of Mekong River and caused of water level at warning point (12,5 m) in Vientiane Municipality and keep continuing higher, and raining can't drain out that caused water level get higher and higher. During this period, broadcasting of flood warning had been made many times and every 30 minutes through Nation and Provincial Radio and TV to alert people who have been living the hazard prone areas particularly near by the Mekong River and its tributaries in order to evacuate and take away of things to safety place in case of water getting higher to flooding.

Paddy fields, gardens and people's cultivation product were inundated by Mekong River and Ngum River (Nam Ngum) in urban areas of Vientiane Municipality. Prime Minister was setting up the ad hoc committee for flood fighting in the year 2002 which presided by Agriculture & Forestry Minister. Role and function of the ad hoc committee is to collaborate with the National Disaster Management Committee for flood prevention and fighting in this year. The ad hoc committee for flood fighting met Vientiane authority officials and districts to make a flood prevention plan for instance: proof of embankment along Mekong River, set up teams to monitor water level and water gate and other areas which embankment are weak by encourage local security guards to collaborate with district police for watching throughout 24 hours. The ad hoc committee for flood fighting in year 2002 had delegated its responsibility to Vientiane Authority Officials and Irrigation Officials to catch up and watching regularly of flood situation. The inspection Committee was also set up in order to do daily follow up issues with consists of various government agencies. Proofing of embankment and water gate had been carried out under the Agriculture sector to provide mechanic. Transportation and communication section in charge of sand supplier and Labour & Social Sector was a sand-bag supplier. Mass media is a core point for stimulation of sand-bags and kinds contribution from NGOs and private sectors and etc... Dried food, rice, pure water and other nutriments are also donated to the flood victims by the Disaster Management Committee. Boat mobilize force which get collaborated by private sectors & village security guards to evacuate people, animals and needed things in flooded area along river bank. Beside that those force also mobilized food, pure water and medicines to distribute to flood victims at temporary sites. At the district and village level was encouraging the youth forces and volunteers to work on improving embankment and set up team to give watching through 24 hours. Chairman and members of flood relief committee distributed relief packages and medicines to flood victims in 4 districts and Ministry of Agriculture had distributed organic fertilizers, vegetable, rice and corn seeds to various villages for replanting after flood.

IGOs and NGOs Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness and Response

* Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), Kobe, Japan

Lao PDR is one of the member countries of ADRC. We all recognize that ADRC is a strong organization in promoting the Disaster Risk Reduction Activities in Asian Region. ADRC activities is dynamically progressing and enlarging step by step. The cooperation between ADRC and NDMO-Lao PDR is started in more than year ago. From Lao side, National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), on behave of Lao Government Organization to collaborate with ADRC to share and exchange information on disaster management. Since then until now, several cooperative activities have implemented. ADRC has provided funds for NDMO's staffs and other organization related to disaster management in Lao PDR to take part in training and workshops on Disaster Risk Management which were conducted by ADRC in Japan and outside Japan. Recently, ADRC allocated US$ 10,000 to support NDMO to run the Project in the title of "Human Resource Development on Disaster Management." The project was carried out in the pattern of bilateral cooperation between ADRC and NDMO Laos. The project activities focused on 2 training workshops on Disaster Management. First for chairman and contact persons of Disaster Management Committee with more emphasized on Disaster Management Organization Role of Emergency, Relief and Mitigation in case of disaster. Second for media staffs in the whole country with more accentuated on Early Warning, Public Awareness and Education of disaster. The project objective is to promote increasing the government official's capacity on Disaster Management, predominantly all members of Disaster Management Committee at all levels in various aspects of DM and on the other hand is to build up early warning activities, public awareness and education through media means and promoting of sustainable development by reducing the losses and damages from disaster to communities and society in the whole country.

Project Implementation and Outcome:

The project duration is for 6 months from November 2002 to April 2003. Project cooperation of NDMO and ADRC (Japan) helped strengthen collaboration among NDMO with media and created good working relationship with Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) in countrywide (three workshops had been held initially two but to reduce the traveling cost it had been agreed to spirited the Second workshop for Chairmen and Contact persons of DM into 2 spared with same contents, (one for the North and another for South). Based on workshop report, we recognized that the first workshop was held in Thalad hotel of Vientiane province in February 04th to 06th, 2003 for media staffs which was attended by 38 participants from TV, Radio and News papers at national and provincial levels of almost sectors and provinces (accepted Phongsaly) . The workshop used NDMO's lecturers to run the course with assistance of resource persons from ADRC and UN-OCHA and some invited resource persons. The workshop was chaired by Mr.Somphanh Phengkhammy, Minister of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Chairman of NDMC. Mr. Somphanh Phengkhammy delivered opening statement with emphasized on YOKOHAMA STRATEGY 1997 and was appreciated ADRC's and UN-OCHA's generosity for its assisting to Disaster Management activity in Lao PDR by having common project with NDMO. He also made big thank to Ms. IZUMI, Mr. YOSHIMURA and Mr. Mizukami for traveling to Laos and lecturing to workshop.

A closing session run by Mr. Vanhthong, Director of Mass Media Department and awarded participants with certificates signed by NDMO, DMM of MIC and ADRC.

* Second workshop was conducted in the meeting room of Champasack Administrative building in April 23rd to 24th, 2003 which was attended by 18 participants, all of them are Chairmen and Contact persons of Disaster Management Committee (DMC) of provinces in the central and southern part of Laos, namely Vientiane Municipality, Bolikhamxai, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravan, Sekong, Champasack and Attapue. The event welcoming by speech of Mr. Thongvang Sihachack, Member of Central Committee of Lao People Renovation Party, Governor of Champasack province and Mr. Laoly Fayphengyoua, Vice Minister of MLSW gave opening speech. The Department of Labor & Social Welfare (DLSW) of Champasack province was a co-hosted workshop. Country Strategy document on DM to 2020 first time introduced in this forum. In this meeting special emphasizes made to build "culture of collaboration & coordination" among DM organizations and with other govt. public and private sectors and agencies. DLSW as the host province offered dinner for Mr. Laoly & participants.

* Third workshop was held in Louangprabang province in May 12th to 13th, 2003 which was attended by 24 participants from Chairman and Contacts Persons of DM of 9 provinces in the Central and Northern part of Laos, namely Vientiane, Siengkhouang, Hoaphan, Luangprabang, Phongsaly, Odomxai, Luangnamtha, Bokeo and Sayngabuly. Mr. Khamdoua, Vice Governor of Luangprabang province opened workshop. In second & third workshops the resource persons were from NDMO. In summary, the project cooperation of NDMO and ADRC has marked as first step working together, good relationship and collaboration between two organizations. It is opened a bright future for cooperation of NDMO- Laos and ADRC- Japan.

* Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Bangkok, Thailand

NDMO has collaborated with ADPC in sharing and exchanging the information on disaster management since NDMO was instituted in 1997. Ever since, NDMO's staffs and officials of other organizations associated with disaster management in Lao PDR had trained the Basic on Disaster Management and take part in workshops which were organized by ADPC in Thailand and other countries with supported by ADPC.

Currently, ADPC has supported NDMO to implement two projects in Laos:

Lao Urban Disaster Mitigation Programme (LUDMP).
LUDMP has implemented in Vientiane Municipality with fund supported by usAID through ADPC. This project is aiming to reduce the population vulnerabilities to urban disaster which will advantage to structures and economics in the cities of Laos. The significance objective is to create system of hazard and vulnerability assessment and diminish disaster in Vientiane city and others. Many activities had been being executed such as: workshops and training courses for partnerships (police, urban planner, communities and other related issues), hazard and vulnerability analysis, community urban hazard mapping, fire prevention drills and etc... This project has implemented by NDMO, Urban Research Institute, Fire Police Protection Department and ADPC.

Project on Development Additional Teaching Materials with contents of Disaster Management for Primary School in grade 3, 4 and 5.
The project was funded by DANIDA, Denmark in the course of ADPC. The project's goal and objective is to create curriculum on disaster management to educate school children and students in the school in order to conscious them on hazard and disaster risk. And on the other hand, is to strengthen institutional capacities of national disaster management systems in the area of public awareness through educating schoolchildren in the subjects of public safety, environment protection, health and sanitation. The project activities are to develop a curriculum for teaching disaster management course on DM to teachers at primary school. The project was launched by NDMO, Ministry of Laobour and Social Welfare (MLSW) and National Research Institute for Educational Science, Ministry of Education (MOE).

* Disaster Mitigation with World Food Programme (WFP)

WFP - collaboration projects with Lao Government (NMDO, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and other organizations) aims at supplying food and maintain the vulnerable communities at the hazard/ disaster prone areas. WFP helped government to conduct vulnerability and risk assessment in the country, and cooperate in responding to flood and drought disasters in the form of food supply by creating Food for Work activities. Food for work activities were implemented in many provinces by government organizations and NGOs. WFP has carried out projects on Disaster Mitigation and Response with NDMO, Social Welfare Department, MLSW through NGOs collaboration and directly with government.

* Disaster Preparedness Project with Care International in Lao PDR (CARE)

In the previous time, NDMO, MLSW and Care International had executed many cooperative projects on Disaster Preparedness, prevention and mitigation at the provinces and districts disaster prone areas. Recently, Care International and NDMO, MLSW collectively implemented project on Disaster Preparedness in Champhone and Xonbury districts, Savannakhet province in the duration of two years (2001-2002), which was funded by Government of Australia (Aus aid) and World Food Programme in the total amount of US$ 378,458. The project goals and objectives are to enhance and advance disaster preparedness and response at the district and village levels, especially, to the poor households who vulnerable to natural disasters in the course of project and measures designed to increase food production of households at village level. 60 target villages were carried out vulnerability and risk analysis to natural disasters and advanced disaster preparedness plans. Based on the information analysis and community needs, many activities were implemented in the pattern of Food for Work Activities such as: intensifying cultivation areas; digging wells; constructing check dams (small irrigation systems) in order to prevent and mitigate floods and droughts, and helping poor households be able to increase their cultivation areas and generate more incomes; organize revolving funds and water management groups. In order to make communities could generate more incomes, the project also supplied fruit and vegetable seeds and baby fishes and provide consultation, training and orientation to communities. The project was extremely benefit to communities, for instances, some poor households previously forced shortages of rice and food could become self-sufficient on food.

* Capacity Building on DM for Provincial and District Officials with Concern World Wide (CWW)

The programme is the collaboration project between NDMO and CWW in the phase of 2 years with funded by DEPECHO in the amount of Euro 188,619. The project was implemented in 8 districts of Khammouane and Savannakhet Provinces with addressed on training and providing techniques to provincial and district authorities by increasing and strengthening capacity of government officials on disaster preparedness at provincial and district levels. This project supplementary emphasized on structural institution, coordination mechanism and implementing of disaster preparedness and response, in particularly, is to upgrade skills of early warning system, information reporting and advancing community disaster preparedness. Various trainings, training of trainers and workshops were conducted for Disaster Management Committee and contact persons on DM at provincial and district levels in the contents of Disaster Management and Community Based Disaster Management. In addition, the project also set up telephone/ wireless communication/ HAM radio networks at the district, provincial and national levels.

* Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) with World Vision (WV)

This is the first CBDM cooperative project between NDMO, MLSW and WV which has been implementing in Champasack district, Champasack province. The project was supported by Aus aid with 3 years execution (2001-2003). The project goal and objective is to enhance and strengthen capacity of district and village authorities and target village population to effective disaster preparedness, particularly community organization institution. The major activities were implemented such as: trainings and workshops on DM; creation of information management, building experimenting Agri. Station, monitoring and early warning systems at village level; conduct hazard mapping at district and village levels, disaster risk analysis, and community disaster management plans; construction of dikes/ reservoirs for floods and droughts prevention; introduction of new seeds, fruit trees and innovative agricultural technique. In addition, the project also provided vegetable seeds and tiny fruit trees including cultivation machineries to communities.

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