Hawaii missile alert: False alarm warns residents of “ballistic missile threat”

HONOLULU — Hawaii emergency management officials said an alert sent to mobile phones and televisions warning of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii on Saturday was a false alarm. The emergency alert sent to cellphones said, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Vern Miyagi, the administrator for the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), said in a press conference around noon Hawaiian time that his team was responsible for the error. According to Miyagi, the error happened during a shift change and at 8:07 a.m., “the wrong button was pushed” during the internal drill. 

According to Miyagi, by 8:10, officials started the recall and cancellation process — but there is no way to stop messages that have already been sent out. At 8:13 a.m., the state warning point issued a cancellation to prevent any more messages from going out. By 8:24 a.m., Gov. David Ige retweeted a message of the cancellation message.

An image of the false  emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.


Although Ige said no one had authorized the use of the sirens, there were sirens. 

Miyagi and Ige said they will be implementing changes to make sure it won’t be a single individual and it will be at least two people sending out the alert. But Miyagi said there is a screen that says “are you sure you want to do this?” 

“It’s a human error we are going to fix,” Miyagi said, but he warned his team has spent the past couple of months preparing for the worst-case scenario in case of nuclear weapons.

“The threat is there,” Miyagi said. “If this goes out, there will be a 12-14 minute warning for an actual event.” 

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said it’s a false alarm and that the agency is trying to determine what happened. 

The incident prompted…

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