Residents of the French city Strasbourg panicked Tuesday after sirens used to warn of impending nuclear attack or natural catastrophe malfunctioned and wailed for 90 minutes.
The eastern city’s fire and rescue service switchboard was flooded with about 600 calls during that time, 10 times more than normal, officials and France Telecom said, adding that the sirens went off due to a technical hitch.
France’s nationwide emergency warning network is the legacy of the air-raid siren network developed for World War II. It has 4,500 sirens placed around the country which are tested at midday on the first Wednesday of every month.
France Telecom, which runs the system, offered residents of Strasbourg “its apologies for the inconvenience they may have suffered” during Tuesday’s malfunction which affected several districts of the city.