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Ethiopian Airlines crash: Captain reported issues shortly after takeoff
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Ethiopian Airlines crash: Captain reported issues shortly after takeoff

Trump Orders Boeing 737 Max 8, Max 9 Aircraft Grounded After Fatal Ethiopian Airlines Crash

Ethiopian Airlines crash: Captain reported issues shortly after takeoff

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of an Ethiopia Airlines plane crash that claimed the lives of all 157 on board on Sunday.

>> Read more trending news 

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was en route to Nairobi,  Kenya, when the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, the airline confirmed. The New York Times reported Thursday that the plane’s captain reported issues three minutes after takeoff Sunday, but it was not immediately clear what caused the crash. 

>> PHOTOS: Ethiopian Airlines crash kills 157, including 8 Americans

Here are the latest updates:

Update 2:40 p.m. EDT March 15: Analysts believe an update for the flight-control software of Boeing 737 Max jets could take as many as six months and cost $500 million, according to reports from Bloomberg News and Crain’s Chicago Business.

The Federal Aviation Authority grounded Boeing 737 Max planes in the wake of Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash out of an abundance of caution. According to Bloomberg, the planes won’t fly again until after Boeing issues an update to the aircraft’s flight-control software.

“Once Boeing identifies the issue on the 737 Max, the most likely scenario, in our view, is that the company will take about three to six months to come up with a fix and certify the fix,” Bank of America analyst Ronald Epstein said Thursday, according to Investor's Business Daily.

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of Sunday’s crash.

Update 1:15 p.m. EDT March 15: After taking to the air Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accelerated to an unusual speed, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reported the plane’s captain reported an emergency on board three minutes after takeoff and requested permission to land, speaking in a “panicky” voice.

“Break break, request back to home,” the captain told air traffic controllers,  according to the Times. “Request vector for landing.”

Controllers saw the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane “oscillating up and down by hundreds of feet” the Times reported. Within five minutes, communication with the plane was lost, according to the newspaper.

The incident immediately drew comparisons to a similar crash that happened last year and involved the same plane model. Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in October shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. As a precaution, Boeing 737 Max planes have been grounded by airlines and regulators worldwide.

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of Sunday’s crash, which claimed the lives of all 157 people on board.

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT March 14: Ethiopian Airlines officials said Thursday in a statement that the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder recovered after Sunday’s deadly crash have been flown to Paris for investigation.

An officials with the French air accident investigation authority, known by its French acronym BEA, told The Associated Press the recorders have already arrived in France. The official did not give an estimate of how long it would take to analyze the devices.

Officials continue to investigate.

Update 3:05 p.m. EDT March 13: Boeing officials said Wednesday they continue to have “full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max,” but they added that the company recommended the government ground the aircraft amid an investigation into Sunday’s deadly crash.

The incident was the second involving a Boeing 737 Max airplane since October, when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia, killing everyone on board.

“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution,” Dennis Muilenburg, president of The Boeing Company, said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.” 

 

Update 2:30 p.m. EDT March 13: President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that an emergency order of prohibition is being issued to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 flights, “effective immediately.”

“Boeing is an incredible company,” the president said Wednesday. “They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they’ll very quickly come up with the answer. But until they do, the planes are grounded.”

 

Update 12:15 p.m. EDT March 13: Canadian officials announced Wednesday that the country will no longer allow Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 aircraft in its airspace as officials continue to probe the cause of Sunday’s deadly crash.

“Following advice from Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, as a precautionary measure, I am issuing a safety notice to address this issue,” Marc Garneau, Canada’s minister of transport, said Wednesday.  “This safety notice is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice.”

 

American officials have not grounded the planes as the investigation continues.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT March 13: Officials are expected to release a software update in the coming months for the flight-control system in the Boeing 737 Max aircraft that was involved in last year’s deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper reported that the fix was planned before Sunday’s deadly Ethiopia Airlines crash, which also involved a Boeing 737 Max plane. It was expected in in January, the Journal reported, but discussions between Boeing representatives and FAA officials were slowed by disagreements over unspecified technical and engineering issues. The fix was also delayed by the five-week government shutdown sparked in December by President Donald Trump’s demand for funding to build his border wall, according to the Journal.

Authorities from several countries continue to probe the cause of Sunday’s crash. The plane’s black box, which was recovered after the crash, has been sent to Europe to be analyzed.

Several countries have grounded Boeing 737 Max airplanes as the investigation continues, with the exception of the U.S. and Canada, according to CNN.

 

Update 9:30 a.m. EDT March 13: A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the black box recovered after Sunday’s plane crash will be sent to Europe to be analyzed.

The spokesman, Asrat Begashaw, declined to tell the AP which country would be tasked with reviewing the flight’s voice and data recorders.

“We have a range of options,” he told the AP. “What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia.”

Since Sunday's crash, officials in several countries and territories, including all of the European Union, Egypt, Thailand and Lebanon, have ordered Boeing 737 Max planes be grounded as authorities continue to probe the cause of the crash.

Update 10 p.m. EDT March 12: New Zealand and Fiji have suspended Boeing 737 Max 8 flights in and out of the two countries and the United Arab Emirates, a key international travel hub, has also barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 from its airspace.

The budget carrier FlyDubai, owned by the Dubai government, uses the aircraft as a workhorse of its fleet.

Earlier Tuesday, the union for Air Canada flight attendants said the company is allowing flight attendants who don’t want to fly on Boeing 737 Max airplanes to be reassigned and the union says they want that option to continue.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees issued a statement asking the company to put the safety of passengers and crew first.

Update 6:30 p.m. EDT March 12: According to Bloomberg, the FAA was still monitoring the situation, but was standing by its decision not to ground the Boeing 737 Max.

Acting FAA Administrator, Daniel K. Elwell, released a statement on behalf of the FAA Tuesday evening:

“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”

  

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT March 12: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency grounded Boeing 737 Max airplanes Tuesday as the investigation into Sunday's crash continues.

Officials suspended Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft "as a precautionary measure" Tuesday, effective at 19:00 UTC. Authorities also suspended "all commercial flights performed by third-country operators into, within or out of the EU” using Boeing Max 8 or Max 9 planes.

“EASA is continuously analyzing the data as it becomes available,” officials said Tuesday in a statement. “The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident.”

The planes have not been grounded in the U.S. Officials continue to investigate.

 

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT March 12: Transportation officials in several countries have grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft as the investigation into Sunday’s deadly crash continues.

Among the countries to ground the planes were Austria, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands, according to CNN. Earlier Tuesday, officials in the United Kingdom also grounded the planes.

The planes continue to fly in the United States as the investigation into what caused Sunday’s crash continues.

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT March 12: President Donald Trump said Tuesday that "airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly" as investigators continue to probe the cause of Sunday's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

"Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," Trump wrote, adding that "the complexity creates danger."

   

Authorities have not said what caused Sunday’s crash, although a plane of the same model crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia last year, killing all people on board. 

As the investigation continues, several airlines and countries have barred or grounded Boeing 737 Max airplanes, including aviation officials in the United Kingdom, Norwegian Airlines and Brazil's GOL Linhas Aereas.

The planes have not been grounded in the U.S., although at least three lawmakers have called for a temporary ban, according to multiple reports.

     

Federal Aviation Administration officials said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press that a team of U.S. aviation experts arrived Tuesday at the site of the crash. Officials will assist the Ethiopian-led investigation alongside investigators from several other countries.

Update 9:50 a.m. EDT March 12: The United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority on Tuesday barred Boeing 737 Max airplanes from flying in the country's airspace as the investigation into the cause of Sunday's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash continues.

 

The Oman Civil Aviation authority also announced Tuesday that the country was "temporarily suspending operations of Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of all Omani airports until further notice."

 

Update 5:10 a.m. EDT March 12: Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is temporarily suspending “all flights into or out of the country by Boeing 737 Max” jets, The Associated Press reported early Tuesday. Meanwhile, South Korean carrier Eastar Jet said it is suspending operations of the aircraft model and will use Boeing 737-800 planes instead.

The news came just hours after a U.S. team traveled to Ethiopia to help investigate Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Read more here.

Update 11:45 p.m. EDT March 11: More than a dozen airlines and the governments of Indonesia and China have grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia, according to The New York Times.

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the downed airliner were recovered Monday at the crash site just outside Addis Ababa and could help authorities speed up the investigation as Boeing tries to contain the repercussions from two 737 Max 8 crashes in just over four months.

 

A Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed last October killing all 189 people aboard.

The similarity of the crashes is concerning not only  pilots and flight attendants, but travelers, too.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the only two American carriers that use the Boeing 737 Max 8, the Times reported, and they’re still flying the aircraft as are 16 other carriers.

Several lawmakers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Richard Blumenthal are calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8s until the Ethiopian Airlines crash investigation is complete.

 

Update 1 p.m. EDT March 11: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday was “a sad day for many around the word, and for the UN in particular,” after 157 people died in an Ethiopian Airlines flight out of Addis Ababa.

At least 21 UN workers were among those killed, officials said.

“A global tragedy has hit close to home, and the United Nations is united in grief,” Guterres said. “Our colleagues were women and men, junior professionals and seasoned officials, hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide range of expertise. ... They all had one thing in common. A spirit to serve the people of the world and make it a better place overall.” 

Authorities continue to investigate the crash.

 

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT March 11: Boeing officials said the company has no plans to issue new guidance to operators in the wake of Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” Charlie Miller, Bowing’s vice president of communications, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

Sunday’s crash was the second fatal accident since October involving a Boeing 737 Max 8. Last year, 189 people died when a Lion Air model of the same plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia.

Update 11 a.m. EDT March 11: Boeing stock prices tumbled in early trading Monday in the wake of Sunday’s deadly Ethiopia Airlines crash.

Shares of Boeing stock were down more than 12 percent shortly after trading opened Monday, according to The New York Times.

 

Sunday’s crash was the second fatal accident since October involving a Boeing 737 Max 8. Last year, 189 people died when a Lion Air model of the same plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia.

Update 10 a.m. EDT March 11: A six-member team of U.S. aviation experts was en route to Ethiopia on Monday, according to Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Ambassador Michael Raynor told the broadcaster that experts with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive Tuesday at the crash site. Boeing and Interpol officials are also investigating the crash.

Update 9:30 a.m EDT March 11: Officials with the Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services identified four of its staff members killed in Sunday's Ethiopia Airlines crash. Officials said Sara Chalachew, Getnet Alemayehu, Sintayehu Aymeku and Mulusew Alemu were traveling to Nairobi to attend a training. Officials said the four, who were Ethiopian nationals, worked in finance, logistics and procurement.

“Although we are in mourning, we celebrate the lives of these colleagues and the selfless contributions they made to our mission, despite the risks and sacrifices that humanitarian work can often entail,” Catholic Relief Services officials said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and all of those who lost loved ones as a result of this tragedy.”

 

Update 8:35 a.m. EDT March 11: Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the victims of Sunday morning’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines flight crash.

The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a statement released Monday that the pope was sad to learn of the crash, which officials said killed all 157 people on board shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

“His Holiness Pope Francis offers prayers for the deceased from various countries and commends their souls to the mercy of Almighty God,” Parolin said. “Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to their families, and upon all who mourn this tragic loss he invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.”

Update 6:34 a.m. EDT March 11: Ethiopian state-run TV is reporting that crews have recovered the black box from the plane that crashed Sunday, according to The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Indonesia announced it is grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of Sunday’s crash, the AP reported Monday.

Update 5:37 a.m. EDT March 11: An Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said the carrier grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of Sunday’s deadly crash, The Associated Press reported Monday. Chinese airlines and the Caribbean’s Cayman Airways also temporarily stopped using the planes.

Update 6:30 p.m. EDT March 10: United Nations employees and other humanitarian workers are among the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday morning near Bishoftu.

The U.N. was trying to confirm with the Ethiopian government the identities of its workers, who were heading to Nairobi for a session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, “described as the world’s highest decision-making body on the environment,” according to the New York Times

Members of another U.N. agency, the World Food Program, were also among the dead, the program’s chief confirmed in a tweet.

 

Other U.N. aides and members of Catholic Relief Services and other organizations were also killed in the crash, the Times reported.

The disaster is eerily similar to a Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October that killed all 189 people on board. The Lion Air crash also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 that went down shortly after takeoff.

It’s unclear why the Ethiopian plane went down and the airline’s CEO cautioned against jumping to any conclusions.

"Ethiopian Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world. At this stage we cannot rule out anything," CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said, according to The Associated Press.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT March 10: The Associated Press has published a list of nationalities of 150 of the 157 people believed to have been on board the Ethiopian Airlines plane. Eight Americans were killed in the flight.

Kenya: 32

Canada: 18

Ethiopia: 9

China: 8

Italy: 8

United States: 8

France: 7

UK: 7

Egypt: 6

Germany: 5

India: 4

Slovakia: 4

Austria: 3

Russia: 3

Sweden: 3

Spain: 2

Israel: 2

Morocco: 2

Poland: 2

Belgium: 1

Djibouti: 1

Indonesia: 1

Ireland: 1

Mozambique: 1

Norway: 1

Rwanda: 1

Saudi Arabia: 1

Sudan: 1

Somalia: 1

Serbia: 1

Togo: 1

Uganda: 1

Yemen: 1

Nepal: 1

Nigeria: 1

U.N. passport: 1

Original report:

According to the BBC, eight crew members and 149 passengers were on the Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 when it crashed about 8:44 a.m. Ethiopian time near Bishoftu, the airline said. 

The victims included people from 35 countries, including 32 Kenyans and 17 Ethiopians, The Associated Press reported.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office issued the following statement about the incident: 

“The Office of the PM, on behalf of the Government and people of Ethiopia, would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones on Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 on regular scheduled flight to Nairobi, Kenya this morning,” the statement read.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • The struggle between Democrats in the House and President Donald Trump over the Russia investigation intensified on Monday with the White House telling former Counsel Don McGahn not to honor a subpoena for  his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, as Democrats said it was all part of a broad effort the President and the Trump Administration to stonewall Congress about the Mueller Report and other investigations. In a letter to Democrats, McGahn's lawyer William Burck said, 'the President has unambiguously directed my client not to comply with the Committee’s subpoena for testimony.' 'Under these circumstances, and also conscious of the duties he, as an attorney, owes to his former client, Mr. McGahn must decline to appear at the hearing,' the letter added. Democrats said they would still convene the hearing at 10 am EDT on Tuesday, as they held out the possibility of finding McGahn in contempt, just as the same committee voted to find Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to honor a subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller Report. Democrats wanted testimony from McGahn because of the information he gave to investigators for the Mueller investigation, in which McGahn detailed repeated demands by President Trump to oust the Special Counsel. While President Trump has sternly denied that he ever ordered McGahn to get rid of Mueller, the evidence offered by the Special Counsel painted a different picture. McGahn testified that the President called him on June 17, 2017 - about a month after Mueller had been named as Special Counsel - and pressed for Mueller to be ousted, an order that McGahn repeatedly ignored. On page 300 of the Mueller Report, 'McGahn recalled the President telling him 'Mueller has to go' and 'Call me back when you do it.''  The Mueller Report described McGahn - who reportedly answered questions for 30 hours over multiple interviews - as a 'credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate.' McGahn also claimed in his testimony that once news of the President's request was reported in the press, Mr. Trump then pressed McGahn to dispute the veracity of the story that the President had pressed for Mueller's ouster. McGahn refused to do what the President had asked. The White House based its refusal for McGahn to testify on a new 15 page legal opinion from the Justice Department, which said McGahn - as a former top adviser - was under no requirement to testify before Congress. 'The President's immediate advisers are an extension of the President and are likewise entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional testimony,' the Office of Legal Counsel opinion stated. In summary, the Justice Department said simply, 'we conclude that Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear before the Committee.' Democrats denounced the decision, and charged it was just adding more evidence to what they say is a cover up, focused on obscuring obstruction of justice by President Trump. 'This move is just the latest act of obstruction from the White House that includes its blanket refusal to cooperate with this Committee,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 'The President is intimidating witnesses and stonewalling the American people and the rule of law. Congress and the American people deserve answers from Mr. McGahn,' said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). '(T)he White House Counsel serves interests of the American people, not the President, and their conversations do not have the protection of blanket attorney-client privilege,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). 'It’s pretty clear what the Trump Administration is doing here,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), 'they’re trying to hide the facts from the American people.' Democrats have promised to move forward to hold McGahn in Contempt of Congress - but there has also been discussion of other penalties, from what is known as 'inherent contempt' - which could involve levying fines against those who refuse to cooperate with investigations by Congress. 'The cover-up continues,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'And we will fight it.
  • In a notable break with the history of their home states, the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate from Kentucky and a top Democrat from Virginia officially introduced a bill on Monday which would increase the minimum age to buy cigarettes and any other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. 'Now is the time to do it,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on the Senate floor, as he rattled off negative statistics about cancer related to tobacco use in the Bluegrass State. 'Our state once grew tobacco like none other, and now we're being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other,' McConnell said, noting the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping to those under the age of 18. 'The health of our children is literally at stake,' McConnell added. McConnell offered the bill along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 2016, who also hails from a state with historic ties to the tobacco industry. 'Like Sen. McConnell, I come from a tobacco state,' Kaine said in remarks on the Senate floor, joining the Majority Leader in giving a history lesson about his state, and the influence of tobacco. 'We're backsliding,' Kaine said, nothing the recent increase in youth tobacco use, as he joined in blaming e-cigarettes and vaping. 'We encourage the states to pass their own laws,' Kaine added, as he said the new age limit would also be applied to members of the military services. “Raising the sales age for tobacco nationwide is one of several policy changes that are essential to reach the tobacco endgame of eliminating tobacco use and nicotine addiction,” said Nancy Brown, the head of the American Heart Association, which offered its quick support. McConnell is running for re-election in 2020, and as the leader of the Senate, he could bring the bill up for action at any time.
  • With members of the House and Senate leaving town for a ten day break at the end of this week, the future of billions of dollars in disaster relief for victims of hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, and more remains in limbo in the halls of Congress, as the Senate struggles to finalize a deal, with opposition by President Donald Trump to extra aid for Puerto Rico one of the stumbling blocks. 'Now it’s time for Congress to pass the disaster relief bill,' Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted on Sunday. 'Our Panhandle communities have waited long enough,' he said, referring to the extreme damage caused by Hurricane Michael last year. But while the House has passed two different relief bills - a $14 billion package in January, and a $19 billion plan earlier this month - the Senate has been unable to come to an agreement, with money for Puerto Rico, and possible extra money to deal with the surge of immigrants along the southern border still in the mix. 'What is happening at the border is tragic, and we hope to address some of that in the supplemental that is coming, the disaster supplemental, to provide some of the resources that are needed there,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. But so far, that broader deal - which would likely push the price tag of the bill over $20 billion - has not come together. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is still holding back $16 billion in already approved disaster aid for areas hit by hurricanes in 2017, including $4 billion for Texas, and $8.2 billion for Puerto Rico. Last week, the feds released $1.4 billion in already approved disaster funding for states hit by disasters in 2018 - but left the much larger amount of 2017 money still on the shelf, even though officials have promised for months that it was about to be released. The 2018 money included $448 million for Florida, and nearly $35 million for Georgia to deal with Hurricane Michael damage - but much larger sums of aid, including money to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base - are caught up in the disaster bill before Congress. And one of the main reasons that disaster bill has been stuck in the Senate since January is President Trump's opposition to extra aid for Puerto Rico. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to have a vote on disaster aid before the Senate leaves town for Memorial Day. 'I'm not going to be sending members of either party home to these storm and flood ravaged states without at least some action,' McConnell said. If key Senators can't reach an agreement, the latest $19.1 billion House-passed bill is ready for action on the Senate calendar. The clock is ticking on any deal - the House is scheduled to leave town by Thursday afternoon.