An emergency alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile has been sent across the US state of Hawaii urging people to seek immediate shelter before being called off by the state’s emergency management agency as a “false alarm.”
The emergency alert that was sent to mobile phones across the state on Saturday stated in all caps, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza later announced that it was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened.
This is while the US Pacific Command sent an email to media contacts early Saturday afternoon Eastern Time, stating “on the record” that the Navy command “has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii.”
The alert, however, had already caused panic on the pacific island and across social media.
Following the incident, Hawaii’s Democratic Governor David Ige announced later in the day that he was working to get to the bottom of a false mobile alert with plans to meet with senior State Department and military officials on Saturday. He further insisted that such errors must be averted to ensure confidence in the alert system.
“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” Ige said in a statement.
The alert stirred confusion and panic across the island state and a major tourist attraction. Within minutes after the emergency warning was issues, US authorities assured the public that no ballistic missile had been fired and that the alert came as the result of an error.
Yet the false alarm drew quick condemnations from Hawaii lawmakers, who underlined that the incident highlighted flaws in the system for pushing out such emergency alerts. They further demanded a quick fix to the process.
Moreover, the White House also declared on Saturday that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the matter, and that the alert was “purely a state exercise.”
The false alarm came amid rising tensions between the US and North Korea, which has recently test launched a ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland in response to persisting American military drills in the region joined by South Korean forces.