AFP / Eugene Tanner
This photo shows a screenshot taken by the photographer of his cell phone shows of emergency alerts on January 13, 2018 of Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii officials swiftly confirmed a cell phone warning of an incoming missile ballistic was a “false alarm” Saturday, but not before the ominous message unnerved residents and stirred up confusion across the US state. The emergency alert urging Hawaiians to “seek immediate shelter” came after soaring tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, with North Korea saying it has successfully tested ballistic missiles that could deliver atomic warheads to the US volcanic island chain.
“There is no missile threat to Hawaii,” the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency quickly tweeted, as it was reported. US military spokesman David Benham said US Pacific Command “has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii, Earlier message was sent in error.” A corrected message was sent about 40 minutes later indicating that “there is no missile threat or danger to the state of Hawaii.” The warning – which came across the Emergency Alert System that is needed nationally for emergency vital information – read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII, SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER, THIS IS NOT TO DRILL.” Governor David Ige was joined by the Department of EMA to pinpoint the message, which was also broadcast on local television stations, was sent. “While I am thankful for this morning’s warning, the governor said in a statement. “I am working to get to the bottom of this story.” Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii called “totally inexcusable,” blaming it on “human error.” “He needs to be tough and quick account and a fixed process,” he tweeted.
AFP / Eugene Tanner
A false missile warning caused panic across Hawaii January 13, 2017, following months of soaring tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile program
The Federal Communications Commission said it was launching a “full investigation” into the incident. Hawaii residents hawked the nerve-wracking warning, taking refuge in hallways and basements.
Lauren McGowan, on vacation in Maui with family members and friends, was on her way to breakfast when her phone blared the alert. She and her family quickly returned to their hotel, where they staffed us along with some 30 people to a basement cafeteria and distributed water and food. – ‘Jarring’ – “Confusion,” McGowan said, particularly for the children in the group. “No one had any idea what was really going on,” the 28-year-old from New York told AFP, explaining they had no cell service underground. “It was a bit jarring for sure,” she said of the experience. However, McGowan added, “I’m not going to let it be ruin the rest of my vacation” and it’s “definitely good to know that the system works.” Several golfers participating in the US PGA Tour Sony Open in Honolulu also reacted to the alarming episode. “Under the toilet with my wife, baby and laws,” American golfer John Peterson tweeted. “Please lord this bomb threat not be real.”
AFP / Eugene Tanner
This photo shows screenshot taken by the photographer of his cell phone shows messages of emergency alerts on January 13, 2018 of Honolulu, Hawaii
After news spread that there was no inbound missile fellow golfer Talor Gooch also took to Twitter, writing: “This was a mistake made by someone.” Birdies did not seem too important for a few minutes. “Let’s make sure this one does not happen again POTUS,” Gooch added.
US President Donald Trump – North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un – had yet to react to the warning. The US leader recently said he would be willing to speak directly to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests, raising fears of attacks. Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, blamed Trump for not taking nuclear threats from North Korea seriously. “We’ve got to achieve peace, not play politics,” she told MSNBC television. “This is literally life and death that is at stake.” She said that for Hawaiians, Saturday’s episode was “a true realization that they’ve got 15 minutes to find some form of shelter” in the event of a missile attack, “or they’re going to be dead.”