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Storage tanks at a Colonial Pipeline Inc. facility in Avenel, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Motorists across a broad swath of the U.S. East Coast and South are struggling to find gasoline and diesel as filling stations run dry amid the unprecedented pipeline disruption caused by a criminal hack. (Photo: Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) — Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million to Eastern European hackers on Friday, May 7, contradicting earlier reports that said the company had no intention of paying an extortion fee to help restore the country’s largest fuel pipeline, according to two people familiar with the transaction.

The company paid the hefty ransom in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.

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