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Carriers offer free calls to Japan

Hawaiian Telcom and three cell phone carriers have announced that customers will not be charged for calls to Japan over the next few weeks.

Hawaiian Telcom announced yesterday that its residential home phone customers may make free phone calls to Japan through April 15. Free calling is retroactive to March 11, the date in Hawaii when the earthquake and tsunami struck.

"Hawaii’s people have always had a strong connection to Japan — for many local residents, Japan was once home," said Eric Yeaman, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Telcom.

Here is what other carriers announced:

» AT&T: Free calls and texts to Japan from March 11-31. Residential landline customers are also eligible for up to 60 minutes of direct-dial calling to Japan during that time.

» Verizon Wireless: Free calls, texts and multimedia messages to Japan from March 11-April 10.

» Mobi PCS: Free calls to Japan through March 31.

Hanauma Bay, Waialae sirens tested

The city yesterday tested emergency sirens at Hanauma Bay and Waialae Beach Park, including one that malfunctioned during last week’s tsunami warning.

On Friday, fewer than 10 of the state’s 181 sirens failed during the tsunami alert, the city Department of Emergency Management said. A full assessment is still being conducted.

John Cummings, city emergency management spokesman, said the siren at Hanauma Bay was one of the 10 that didn’t work on Friday because it was offline waiting for parts so it could be fixed. The one at Waialae Beach Park "had been tagged" for routine maintenance and no one complained, "so we assumed it worked," Cummings added.

FEMA, governor discuss recovery

A top official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid a courtesy call to Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday en route to American Samoa to be briefed on the progress of recovery efforts since the September 2009 earthquake and tsunami there.

The trip by Tim Manning, FEMA deputy administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, was scheduled before last week’s Japan earthquake and tsunami, FEMA public affairs director Rachel Racusen said.

Manning and Abercrombie talked about the process for damage assessments and the types of FEMA assistance available, but Hawaii made no specific requests at the meeting, Racusen said.

State administration officials have been in contact with FEMA’s regional office in Oakland, Calif., regarding specific issues, she said.


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