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Caught with our pants down

Passengers from British Airways Flight 158 on the tarmac at LF Wade International Airport on Sunday night after news of a credible bomb threat (Photograph courtesy of officialjaybda/X)

Close on the heels of the cyberattack that brought the Bermuda Government to its knees last autumn, the outside world’s intrusion into our idyllic lives has made another significant impact. Slowly but surely, what could happen only in someone else’s country is happening to us, which leaves the million-dollar question: are we ready?

The answer resoundingly in the negative is already in from the cyberattack, and this week awkward inefficiencies in the face of potential peril were again shown up by anonymous criminals.

There is much to be critical of in the wake of the revelations coming from the bomb threat — better still, hoax — made against LF Wade International Airport.

Why did it take more than 40 minutes for full emergency services to be made available?

Why did it take so long to locate and then activate emergency stairs so that passengers, two of whom required wheelchairs, could be helped off the aircraft?

Why did it take the Ministry of National Security almost 48 hours to make a public address?

The worst-case scenario for this perceived lethargy — with almost 200 passengers and crew to account for, and 50 tonnes of fuel in situ for the most explosive of cocktails — is unthinkable.

So, while there is justifiable praise due for the crew on board British Airways Flight 158 and Bermuda Air Traffic Control for their calm and professionalism in handling the situation, it is right that there are more questions about operational shortcomings, which were made clear to anyone who has listened fully to the recording made amid heightened uncertainty.

Who likes a fire drill? No one, if we are being perfectly honest. But they and their like are a necessary evil.

All stakeholders must learn from this immediately and regularise processes so that those who should know better are not scurrying around like deer trapped in headlights whenever a crackpot determines to hold our nation to ransom.

It does not need repeating that those who are responsible for the threat must be found and face the full fury of the law. If indeed the culprits are overseas-based — as appears likely, given the similar threats reported against Anguilla, Turks & Caicos and British Virgin Islands — this means liaising proactively and vigorously with international law-enforcement partners.

Regular updates, even if fresh information is more drip-drip than flowing, are essential. The Bermuda public and future travellers deserve that. We cannot afford to be caught with our pants down again, or it could become a feeding frenzy for terrorists at home and abroad.

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Published May 09, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 09, 2024 at 7:23 am)

Caught with our pants down

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