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19 January 2018, 01:54 | Frank Carlson
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called out the “epic failure of leadership” that led to a false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii
After an erroneous alert went to out residents of the USA state of Hawaii on Saturday - to their smartphones, radios, and televisions - that a ballistic missile was incoming, Japan's state-run NHK broadcaster also sent out its own erroneous alert.
The false alert resulted in panic across the islands as people sought shelter - a student described the scene to HuffPost as "just pandemonium".
Thousands of miles away, Saturday, Hawaiians were on full alert for almost 30 minutes, when a missile alert was sent by mistake.
That's how long it took Hawaii officials to finally confirm that there were no incoming ballistic missiles early Saturday morning, and that cellphone warnings of an imminent attack were sent in error.
Saturday's lunacy should be another warning as well - about our state's and nation's wireless emergency alert system - and about the perils of how digital communications could lead to disastrous mistakes leading into a nuclear war. "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill".
"It couldn't hurt to take another look at the lash-up with federal authorities to see if there is anything more that can be done to validate the flow of basic information".
A spokesperson for Hawaii's emergency management agency later said an employee mistakenly pressed the "wrong button" during a routine drill. From a drop-down menu on a computer screen, the employee was given two options: "Test missile alert", which sends a message internally to agency staff, and "Missile alert", which sends the public message.
Officials took 23 minutes to call federal officials to get approval to rescind the alert, which wasn't needed.
The agency posted a note on Twitter about the false alarm about 10 minutes after the initial alert. One is labelled "test missile alert", which will test the notification system is working without actually sending an alert to the public.
Hirono says "this had the potential for being totally catastrophic".
She also says the Department of Homeland Security is examining how the US government can quickly verify the accuracy of alerts with agencies such as the Department of Defense.
For their part, Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Miyagi, the emergency management administrator, apologized and vowed changes.
Local 22 & Local 44 News reporter Alexandra Leslie asked Vermont Emergency Management director Erica Bornemann this question.
The broadcaster declined to say what the other news flash was about, but some domestic news outlets issued bulletins at around the same time about the latest recipients of a Japanese literary award.
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