Last December an aviation exercise in Lusaka caused panic when it was mistaken for the real thing. This year it is Zimbabwes turn.
According to the Mercury News report, on 5 August “Zimbabwean aviation officials told news organizations that a Boeing 767 arriving from London was involved in an accident at Harares airport. Soldiers, paramilitary police and security agents sealed off approaches to the airport and guarded the perimeter. Military helicopters hovered aloft as smoke rose from one runway. Ambulances rushed in…. At Harares Parirenyatwa hospital, extra doctors and nurses were rushed in and told to expect casualties from the airport. The atmosphere at the hospital was tense with staff evidently believing it was a genuine emergency. …All-news TV networks and websites in several countries flashed the reports of an accident, and the alerts were passed along dozens of times via Twitter…. Several hours later, David Chawota, head of the Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority, told journalists that the drills scenario … was designed to simulate a hijacking in which nine people had been killed and 30 were injured…. “Telling the media was part of the exercise. We wanted to see how the media would react,” he said. “In the event, the drill was a success because all our systems worked perfectly. Police, security and hospital staff reacted swiftly”.
According to a CNN report Mr Chiwota added “we do this every three years.”
You have been warned.