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Markets around the world are in crisis mode

What happens if the UK Brexits

Investors around the world went into crisis mode as results showed British voters have chosen to leave the European Union in a stunning decision with far-reaching implications.

Amid extremely volatile trading, the pound plunged more than 11% against the dollar to below $1.33, its lowest level in more than 30 years. The euro also fell heavily.

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With more than 98% of districts reporting in the U.K. referendum, votes to leave the EU had a decisive lead.

Stocks got hammered amid the panicked mood. After wild swings, Japan’s Nikkei plummeted 8.3%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 4.9%.

London stock futures are trading around 7% down. U.S. stock futures are also sharply lower, with the Dow projected to tumble more than 700 points at the open.

British bank stocks traded in Hong Kong were hit especially hard — HSBC fell more than 12%, and Standard Chartered nosedived more than 13%.

Investors turned to safe haven assets like the Japanese yen, which soared against the dollar. Gold jumped around 6%.

“The markets have been betting on remain in the past few days, and when the first results came in, that has reversed,” said Vicky Pryce, an economist and former U.K. government official.

Related: The pound is crashing

Pryce was watching the results come in at the London School of Economics, where the mood was very nervous.

Most of those attending — and most expert economists — wanted the U.K. to remain in the European Union. They are worried “Brexit” could hurt the U.K. economy and crash the pound.

“I’ve just seen my salary vaporize,” Luis Garicano, LSE professor of economics and strategy, said as the pound tumbled after the first results were announced.

On Thursday, investors had been growing increasingly confident that the country would vote to remain a member of the 28-nation bloc. The pound made gains, and U.S. and European stocks rose.

Concerns over Britain potentially choosing to leave the EU have caused turmoil in international markets in recent weeks. The FTSE 100 seesawed violently and the pound was more volatile than even during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Related: The non-Brits guide to Brexit

A record number of voters registered to vote in the referendum. Fierce campaigning has split the country down the middle, with opinion polls ahead of the vote too close to predict the result.

Migration and the the economy dominated the debate.

Campaigners for a British exit (Brexit) say the U.K. can only control immigration if it leaves the EU, which insists on free movement of people across the union. Campaigners for Britain to remain an EU member say walking out of the biggest free trade area in the world would do irreparable damage to the economy.

— Felicia Wong, Sophia Yan and Judy Kwon contributed reporting.

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