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False tsunami alert startles coastal Oregon town

January 4, 2018 GMT

SEASIDE, Ore. (AP) — A tsunami-warming system erroneously informed people living in Seaside, Oregon, that a tsunami was approaching in four hours.

City spokesman Jon Rahl says a malfunction in the system replaced what was supposed to be Wednesday’s regularly scheduled test message.

Seaside police quickly sent email and text notifications correcting the error.

Gas station owner Rich Trucke wrote to The Daily Astorian newspaper that some people panicked despite his assurances that tests are regularly done on Wednesdays. He says one customer hastily drove up, demanding gas to leave town. Another had told his 95-year-old mother to start packing.

Rahl says the mishap is a reminder of why tests are conducted. He says they “give us the opportunity to evaluate what’s working, and in this case what’s not.”