Hundreds of Kiryat Shmona residents were unable to enter bomb shelters even though they were told to do so through the city’s loudspeaker system following exchanges of fire along the Lebanese border.
Some public shelters remained locked due to a malfunction in the computerized system responsible for opening them at times of emergency. All shelters were supposed to open at the push of a button in the municipal operations room.
“I helped an old lady who lives next door to me to get down the stairs, but to our surprise the shelter was locked, even though several minutes had passed since the decision was made to send the residents into secured rooms,” Kiryat Shmona resident Yaron Segev told Ynet.
Segev phoned the municipal emergency hotline and was told that technicians were sent to the shelters and are working on the problem.
“Two hours went by and still no one came,” Segev said. “Some 52 families found themselves locked out of the shelter. In other incidents people broke into the shelters and caused damage to the locks. In our case, dozens of children and old people were left exposed to the deadly rocket fire.
“I hope someone here wakes up before there will be a major tragedy, which was averted by sheer luck this time.”
Kiryat Shmona Municipality spokesman Doron Shenfar said in response, “During the opening of the shelters there were a number of malfunctions. Unfortunately, the funds allocated by the Defense Ministry are not enough to maintain the computerized system.
Earlier on Sunday Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai discussed the issue with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who promised to examine the budgetary issue. Peretz is expected to tour the city in the near future.