Hawaiians on Saturday morning had a dash of terror with their breakfast after receiving a false alert warning of an inbound ballistic missle threat. After 38 minutes of panic, the government rescinded the alert, advising the threat was a false alarm and there was no known ballistic missile launch. The emergency alert sent out to electronic devices, read “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
The New York Times reported on the error, citing governor David Y. Ige to have said “What happened today was totally unacceptable,” and “Many in our community were deeply affected by this. I am sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced.”
The governor also explained that the alert went out in error due to an employee pressing an incorrect button. BBC explains that the alert system is in place due to the shorter distance between the state and North Korea during a time of high tension between the two countries.
Although the false alarm alert took almost 40 minutes to reach phones, the government did start work immediately to get the word out in other forms that there was no real attack on the American Islands. Highway signs, construction signs, and government social media accounts worked furiously to spread the news that the people of Hawaii were safe.
In the moments between the first and second message, the people on the island went into panic mode. NPR reported that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii told MSNBC that “What the people of Hawaii went through … is a true realization that they’ve got 15 minutes to get to shelter or they’re going to be dead.” NPR also reported that the state confirmed it would cease to run the siren drills until the government “has completed a full analysis of the event.”
BBC Hawaii missile alert: False alarm sparks panic in US state
NYT Hawaii Panics After Alert About Incoming Missile Is Sent in Error
‘This Is Not A Drill’: A False Ballistic Missile Alert Shakes Hawaii