An alarm warning Hawaii residents about an incoming ballistic missile on Saturday turned out to be false after a counter alert saying that it was a false alarm came after 38 minute of a ballistic missile scare.
This is coming in the the wake of a face-off between U.S President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over the rogue nation’s nuclear missiles programme.
The alarm warning circulated in Hawaii shortly after 8 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET), read: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
Residents of Hawaii were scared for their lives with many phoning family members and saying goodbye. A woman, Sandra Stephenson, an Oahu resident, told MSNBC that she received the alert on her cellphone and immediately began calling neighbors to verify if it was real. Stephenson said a neighbor, who is a fireman, told her the message was not a false alarm and advised her to go inside and close the windows. It was only later, when she contacted her daughter on the mainland, that Stephenson said she learned the truth. She wasn’t sure what she would have done if the alert had been real. “There is no recourse,” she said, adding that her house is near the water and it’s surrounded by windows. “To me, there is no recourse.”
At 8:20 a.m., the state’s Emergency Management Agency followed up in a tweet: “NO missile threat to Hawaii.” A similar alert was sent to cellphones about 38 minutes after the first. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, (D-Hawaii) who also tweeted “there is no incoming missile to Hawaii,” questioned how the mistake happened and why it took so long before it was corrected, adding that it triggered feelings of terror unnecessarily in a state with more than 1.4 million people.
HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE
In his explanation, Hawaii Governor David Ige said “It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button.”
Commander David Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command confirmed in a statement that there is no threat: “USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii,” the statement read. “Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible.”
STATEMENT: While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future. — Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters referred all questions about the alert to the Department of Defense. Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also took to Twitter on Saturday in the wake of the false alarm. “There is no missile threat,” the Democratic senator tweeted. “It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawaii than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.” On Saturday, FCC head Ajit Pai said the department is “launching a full investigation into the false emergency alert that was sent to residents of Hawaii.”