Hawaii CAP Planes Sound Tsunami Alert

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The Civil Air Patrol launched nine aircraft in Hawaii Saturday to warn coastal residents of an impending tsunami. The wave was formed by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake off the coast of Chile and resulted in tsunami warnings for much of the Pacific Ocean from Russia to Australia. The quake hit about 3:34 a.m. Chile time and by 6 a.m. local time CAP crews in Hawaii were in the air. "Eighty percent of the shoreline in Hawaii does not have a fixed base siren," said Hawaii Wing Commander Col. Roger Caires. "CAP aircraft are the only resource for issuing tsunami warnings, via a speaker system attached to the outside lower portion of their plane's fuselage."

The CAP crews are looking for anyone near the shore who may not have heard warnings through radio and television broadcasts. The tsunami warning function is central to CAP's role in Hawaii and crews are well-trained in carrying out the mission. They all have predetermined routes to cover and had about five hours to get the word out. Early reports from Hawaii indicated virtually everyone on the islands had evacuated to high ground in anticipation of the tsunami.