TAIPEI - Air raid alert sirens across Taiwan sounded for fifteen seconds yesterday morning, causing a brief scare for residents shocked by the blaring sound that turned out to have been activated by mistake.
According to a statement by the National Police Agency's Civil Defence Headquarters, at 8:25 a.m. yesterday the agency carried out routine software tests, and the central alert system mistakenly sent the signal for activation to stations throughout the country.
According to the NPA, "software problems" caused the unintended activation of siren sounds. During normal testing, actual sounds are not emitted, the NPA says in its statement. When air raid sirens are sounded in civil defence drills, it is common practice for the NPA announce the event in advance.
The NPA's website states that the siren must be activated when a hostile plane or unidentified plane that is determined to be on course to invade Taiwan and Penghu breaches the alert broadcast line (警報發放線). The border of demarcation defined by the line lies 80 miles off the coast of Taiwan proper and 75 miles off the coast of the Penghu area. The Air Force operates an Air Control Center that would issue the order to sound air raid sirens.
Director of the Civil Defence Control Headquarters Pan Hong-hua (潘宏華) indicated that his department has asked the contractor to investigate the system and carry out repairs, according to the United Evening News. The full siren sequence lasts for 115 seconds with pauses in between, and the signal for lifting the alert lasts for a continuous 90 seconds. After the siren was sounded in error yesterday, it was shut off after 15 seconds.
Emergency checking carried out by the Ministry of National Defence showed no radar detection of enemy aircraft, said deputy minister Chen Bao-yu of the department responsible joint warfare coordination and deployment. All armed forces maintained the normal level of alert. The source of the siren was the No. 1 Zhongzheng Station, according to the report.
At Legislative Yuan briefings yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) challenged Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), the political deputy minister of the Ministry of the Interior, for displaying 'lack of concern' over the incident, the UEN says. During the briefing, Hsiao confessed to be unaware that the accidental blaring of sirens occurred, and he then promised to investigate, according to the report.