January 19, 2018

Hawaii receives 'false alarm' that sends people scrambling for shelter

14 January 2018, 12:32 | Kara Nash

OPP Sgt Kerry Schmidt

OPP  Sgt Kerry Schmidt

A false ballistic missile threat alert was sent to all cell phones in Hawaii on Saturday morning, sending the state into a panic for more than 30 minutes until emergency officials confirmed the message was sent in error - the result of someone pushing the wrong button.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency confirmed that an alert sent to people's phones in Hawaii was an error. If you are outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a building.

"False alarm. But for all the other misfires and rogue sirens here, what does it say that we live in a time where we have to assume it's possible?"

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono echoed that point in her own tweet.

She told Global News Radio 770 CHQR in a phone interview that she was preparing for a conference call when the alert came through.

Malcolm Beebe told the BBC from Honolulu he was also pondering his mortality: "I received the text massage about an incoming missile attack".

While the message was sent across the state, not everyone received a text alert.

"There is nothing more important to Hawai'i than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process", Sen.

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That was the verdict of musician Darcy Hanneman, one of many in the U.S. state of Hawaii who received a terrifying - and incorrect - warning that a ballistic missile was heading their way. "What happened today is totally inexcusable".

The alert caused a wide-ranging, full-blown panic across the island and on social media, and was reported in the worldwide press. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.', but fortunately was actually a mistake possibly as part of a drill despite the message claiming to be real.

"It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button", he said.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said authorities were trying to determine what happened.

State Rep. Matt Lopresti said the Legislature would hold a hearing on the false alarm. Gen. Joe Logan were on hand for a press conference at Civil Defense at Diamond Head Saturday following the false alarm issued of a missile launch on Hawaii.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sought to calm nerves soon after the accidental alarm.

However, a spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command told BuzzFeed News the incident was a false alarm. "We have to get to the base of what happened and ensure it never happens again".

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says it "was purely a state exercise".

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