North Korea Threat Has Hawaii Testing Warning Sirens

December 2, 2017 Updated: December 2, 2017

Hawaii has tested its nuclear warning siren just before midday on Friday Nov. 30 for the first time since the Cold War.

Some 180 sirens played on Hawaii’s most populated island of Oahu while a further 385 were heard across the state, reported the Star-Advertiser. The local paper said residents first heard the typical attention alert (used for hurricanes and tsunamis) which was followed by the new one-minute attack warning tone.

Resuming the monthly tests is a part of a program intended to warn Hawaii residents of an impending nuclear missile attack from North Korea, which launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29 that was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to much of the U.S. mainland.

The European Council on Foreign Relations think tank released a report last month saying North Korea’s top potential nuclear targets included Hawaii.

Bruce Teasley, a 63-year-old tourist from Oregon, told the Star Advertiser the test reminded him of air-raid sirens used during WWII and the surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on Dec. 7, 1941.

“I got goose bumps,” Teasley told the paper in an interview conducted just outside the Pearl Harbor memorial visitor center.

“Then I just started imagining the guys who were sitting here on duty that day [in 1941] when the attack happened and what must have going through their minds,” he said.

Melissa Henderson, another visitor from the U.S. mainland, told the Star Advertiser she was aware of the planned tests and was initially anxious. “I was very concerned and even second-guessing whether or not we should still come in light of what I read,” said Henderson.

“I guess [that’s] the state of the world that we’re in today,” she said. “It was just very frightening, on one hand, the fact that we have come to the point where we have to actually test sirens in light of the threat of nuclear war,” said the 43-year-old from Louisiana.

“But on the other hand, it is good that we are being proactive as a country in doing something to protect ourselves,” she said.

In the case of an attack, residents have to promptly respond to the alerts—as any launch to impact warning time for Hawaii is 15 minutes or less. They have been instructed to have a designated place to go for shelter.

After any nuclear blast, Hawaiian residents would need to remain in shelters until the agency has fully evaluated the radiation and fallout. A report by ABC radio said that this could take between a couple of hours or as long as two weeks.

If a nuclear attack were to hit Hawaii, most probably centered on Honolulu, officials believe there could be around 18,000 fatalities.

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