Unexpected siren activation causes concern


An unscheduled tsunami siren activation Thursday afternoon caught the public and Civil Defense off guard.

The alarms blared across the island at 3:10 p.m. without warning, over three hours after the scheduled test at 11:45 a.m.

The Hawaii Police Department announced 10 minutes later that there was no danger and that it had activated the sirens as part of ongoing tests.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri and Assistant Chief Marshall Kanehailua couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Phones were ringing off the hook at Civil Defense’s Hilo office within minutes, a reporter observed, with callers wondering if it was a repeat of Saturday’s tsunami warning that led to statewide evacuations.

Staff were unable to give many details to callers except that there wasn’t an emergency.

“They’re still investigating that,” one caller was told.

“It may have been a malfunction,” another was informed.

Civil Defense Administrator Benedict Fuata said he wasn’t informed of the second activation beforehand even though he was in a meeting with Kubojiri when it occurred.

Fuata said police told him it was part of the day’s test.