'We made a mistake' Hawaii sends false missile alert

Ruben Ruiz
January 14, 2018

The message sent to mobile phones warned, in capital letters: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii".

"HI-EMA has already taken measures to ensure that an incident such as the one that occurred this morning does not happen again".

Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi said "there was no automated way to send a false alarm cancellation".

"We made a mistake", said Miyagi. "Ballistic missile threat inbounds to Hawaii".

It was corrected by email but there was no follow-up mobile text for 38 minutes, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. Hotel guests scrambling for safety, seeking shelter in the basement, huddling together, fearing the worst.

"We were pretty much helpless, standing on the beach just going, 'What the hell do you do?'" Ms Smith said.

Richard Ing, a Honolulu attorney, was doing a construction project at home when his wife told him about the alert.

On Jan. 5, an erroneous quake alert was sent to the Kanto region and parts of Fukushima Prefecture, with alarms blaring out suddenly from cellphones and public speakers. "Nothing as terrifying as a missile coming to kill everyone you know and love", she told AFP.

Wada said the instructors and staff at the school "seemed calm", despite being at Honolulu International Airport, which is located adjacent to the US military's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

A spokesperson for the White House said that President Trump had been briefed on the alarm.

"The intention of the call was kind of, say my goodbyes and if this was it, then I wanted to be talking to them as it happened, so it was really terrifying", said Apodaca.

"Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations", he said in a statement.

Ige also apologised for the "the pain and confusion it caused" while promising to undertake a whole review of the HI-EMA operational procedure.

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British Transport Police said it was an "ongoing incident" and said the station was "unlikely" to be open by Saturday. Flames were seen coming from the station's roof and smoke filled the foyer, prompting the building's evacuation.

The alert caused a tizzy on the islands and across social media. Workers streamed into the clubhouse trying to seek cover in the locker room, which was filled with the players' golf bags, but instead went into the kitchen.

"Emergency alerts are meant to keep us and our families safe, not to create false panic".

To all that just received the warning along with me this morning. apparently it was a "mistake" hell of a mistake! "A day when many frantically tried to think about the things that they would do if a ballistic missile launch would happen".

Brian Naeole, who was visiting Honolulu from Molokai, said he wasn't anxious since he didn't hear sirens and neither TV nor radio stations issued alerts.

The agency did not have a plan for a false alarm in place, officials said.

"I thought to myself, it must be someone's last day at work or someone got extremely upset at a superior and basically did this as a practical joke", a Honolulu lawyer told The Associated Press.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and Honolulu Department of Emergency Management assured Twitter followers there was no missile threat to the state shortly afterward.

"Thirty-eight minutes is just unacceptable", he said, referring to the time that went by between the initial alert and the correction.

At 8:10 a.m., the U.S. Pacific Command verified with Maj.

The governor said some sirens went off on Saturday after the false alarm. "There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process".

There is no missile threat. "One person, human error - and that button was pushed anyway". There is nothing more important to Hawai'i than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.

The US Federal Communications Commission, which has jurisdiction over the emergency alert system, announced it was initiating a full investigation. The possibility of a real missile strike has been more of a concern than usual in Hawaii lately as North Korea tests missiles that would put the islands within range. But there were problems there, too.

Other reports by GizPress

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