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"Colonial Pipeline is taking steps to understand and resolve this issue. At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation," the company said in a statement on 8 May.

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"This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimise disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline," it added.

US-based third-party cyber security firms were engaged to probe the nature and scope of the incident.

The cyber attack on the fuel pipeline is a huge one after the SolarWinds software attack.

In the cyber-attack after SolarWinds, at least 30,000 organisations across the US, including government and commercial firms, were hacked by China-based threat actors who used Microsoft's Exchange Server software to enter their networks.

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