38 minutes of fear: How a Hawaii missile alert test went wrong

14 January, 2018, 12:58 | Author: Brenda Erickson

Residents of Hawaii were told that a ballistic missile was heading for the Pacific island and that they should take cover, in a emergency alert sent to people's phones entirely by accident.

The incident prompted defense agencies including the Pentagon and the U.S. Pacific Command to issue the same statement, that they had "detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii". But for more than a half hour, while the agency struggled to retract the warning, panicked Hawaiians scrambled to find shelter.

TOUR players, families, fans and officials were part of the larger community who received an alarm at 8:07 a.m. local time on their phones stating "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII". The alert, sent to mobile phones and aired on television and radio shortly after 8 a.m., was issued amid high worldwide tensions over North Korea's development of ballistic nuclear weapons.

"I deeply apologize for the trouble and heartbreak that we caused today", said Vern Miyagi, administrator of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency.

"It's a human error".

The second recent blunder in Hawaii's planning for a possible North Korean nuclear attack left islanders shaken after an emergency alert warning of an imminent strike sounded on hundreds of thousands of cellphones. So, she grabbed her four children held them close, listened to the news and hoped for the best.

"Here, there is nothing you can do", she said.

"It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system is working and an employee pushed the wrong button", Ige said.

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While the agency tweeted that there was no threat about 10 minutes after the warning, it was not officially rescinded for almost 40 minutes, when a revised alert confirming the "false alarm" reached cellphones. At the beginning of each shift, Miyagi said, his team conducts a routine internal test that involves the Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alert.

"There is a screen that says, 'Are you sure you want to do this?'" Miyagi said, adding that the employee "feels awful about it". Gen. Joe Logan, said a written report would be prepared. "You don't get a do-over for something like that".

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on social media the panel would launch an investigation.

Wada said the instructors and staff at the school "seemed calm", despite being at Honolulu International Airport, which is located adjacent to the USA military's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hawaii's economy depends heavily on tourism.

Hawaii Governor David Ige said in comments aired on the CNN that "I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii".

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country's growing missile weapon capability against the USA territory of Guam or US states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough action against Pyongyang, including "fire and fury". Workers at a golf club huddled in a kitchen fearing the worst. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump was briefed by aides and that the incident involved "purely a state exercise".

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