Hawaii Officials Mistakenly Warn of Incoming Missile

'Seek immediate shelter; this is not a drill'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2018 1:04 PM CST
Hawaii Officials Mistakenly Warn of Incoming Missile
This smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.   (AP Photo/Jennifer Kelleher)

A tourist in Waikiki tells Hawaii News Now it was "the biggest fright of my life." On Saturday, residents and visitors in Hawaii got an emergency alert on their phones reading, in all caps, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." The AP reports the result was panic on the ground and on social media. Businesses opened their doors to people seeking shelter. A video posted online shows a person putting children into a storm drain to protect them. And KPRC anchor Sara Donchey tweets that her family texted her their love while they hid in their garage.

Officials confirmed the alert was a false alarm 15 minutes later, but CNN reports a second emergency alert letting people know no missile was on its way wasn't sent for nearly 40 minutes. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii says "it was a false alarm based on a human error." And Hawaiian Gov. David Ige says someone "pushed the wrong button" while employees were changing shifts. Investigations are underway to find out exactly what happened and to prevent it in the future. "Everyone in America needs to understand what the people of Hawaii just went through because they would be angry—like I am—that we have known about this threat continuing to build for years, but the leaders in this country have failed us," Hawaii News Now quotes Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as saying.

(More Hawaii stories.)

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