Just moments ago, phones across Hawaii received an emergency message alert about a “ballistic missile threat inbound,” but according to state officials, this isn’t true.
The alarm, which read “BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” alarmed Hawaiian residents, quickly turning to social media to post plenty of screenshots.
US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii’s government David Ige and state’s Hawaii Emergency Management Agency all contributed on Twitter to let everyone know that the alarm was false. Honolulu police department also confirmed in a post that “State Warning Point has issued a Missile Alert in ERROR!.”
Buzzfeed reporter Amber Jamieson tweeted that one EMA employee said it was part of a drill. US Senator from Hawaii Brian Schatz said that the “inexcusable” alarm “was a false alarm based on a human error.”
Right now it’s not immediately clear what prompted the notification to be sent state-wide. Despite the quick confirmation by state officials, the notification was definitely shocking for island residents. Given the fact that the tensions between the United States and North Korea are on thin lines, such notification would cause mass panic, and could potentially erode trust in the system right now.
Last year, Hawaiian officials had announced that they were preparing to resume the Cold War-era early warning system used to alert residents of an impeding attack. The system was discontinued in the mid-1990s, and tests were resumed on December 1st of last year, using a siren that lasted around 50 seconds.
NO missile threat to Hawaii.
— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018
There is NO missile threat. https://t.co/qR2MlYAYxL
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
U.S. Pacific Command has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon possible. pic.twitter.com/hqidbV0BWn
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) January 13, 2018
The moment the EAS alert interrupted Hawaiian TV is terrifying pic.twitter.com/pVwpCBeRgD
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 13, 2018
Hawaii Emergency Management sends out message saying the missile alert is a false alarm 45 minutes later pic.twitter.com/Y79Phzearz
— Honolulu Civil Beat (@CivilBeat) January 13, 2018
Today’s alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) January 13, 2018