HONOLULU, Hawaii ― People in Hawaii received alerts Saturday morning warning of an approaching missile and instructing people to seek shelter, but authorities quickly declared the messages were sent in error.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII,” read a mobile push notification delivered around 8 a.m. local time. “SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” In hotels, guests heard a similar message over intercoms as others were interrupted while watching TV.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and Honolulu Department of Emergency Management assured Twitter followers there was no missile threat to the state shortly afterward.
Authorities confirmed there was no impending threat within 5 to 10 minutes of the alert, after contacting the state’s civil defense, Cpl. L. Miller of Honolulu Police Department’s Kahuku substation told HuffPost. But why it took so long to notify the public is still unclear.
“If the alert was real, the sirens would’ve went off at the same time,” Miller said, adding that people would have around 15 minutes to take cover.
A correction was not sent to mobile phones, however, until around 38 minutes after the initial alert.
“There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. False Alarm,” it read.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and congresspeople from the state, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D) and Mazie Hirono (D), all posted messages to social media to quell fears, calling the alert a “false alarm.”
The alert forced the U.S. Pacific Command, which is headquartered in Honolulu, to ensure the world via Twitter it was sent in error.
“I know first-hand how today’s false alarm affected all of us here in Hawaii, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion it caused,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement released hours after the incident. “I, too, am extremely upset about this and am doing everything I can do to immediately improve our emergency management systems, procedures and staffing.”
In a previous statement, Ige said that although he was “thankful” the alert was only a false alarm, “the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system.”
Minutes after the message was broadcast across the islands, Rep. Gabbard told CNN that “the people of Hawaii just got a taste of the stark reality of what we face here of a potential nuclear strike on Hawaii.”
“This is a real threat facing Hawaii,” she added.
Gov. Ige told CNN that the…