Hawaii Alert System Accidentally Warns of Imminent ‘BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT’ [Updated]
Image: Screengrab via Twitter
On Saturday, smartphones in Hawaii lit up with the ominous
warning, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK
IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” A minor panic almost
immediately ensued as the public wondered whether a nuclear
warhead was indeed about to obliterate part of the U.S.
Officials also overrode Hawaiian television with a terrifying
message ordering residents to stop whatever they were doing and
“take immediate action measures,” including pulling vehicles
off of roads and finding shelter.
Fortunately, there’s no imminent nuclear strike inbound on the
Aloha State. Mere minutes later, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
posted on Twitter that the warning was a false alarm,
adding that she had personally confirmed with officials that
there is no missile threat to Hawaii at this time. BuzzFeed
Amber Jamieson added that a Hawaii Emergency Management
Agency official informed her that the alert was related to a
drill and that they were trying to send a second message.
In recent months, Hawaiian officials have
reactivated decades-old systems designed to warn residents
of imminent nuclear strikes amid ongoing tensions with North
Korea and President Donald Trump’s
threats of nuclear war. According to the
Washington Post, while experts believe that
roughly 90 percent of the Hawaiian population would survive the
immediate effects of such a strike, there are currently no
designated nuclear shelters in the state, and in all likelihood
residents would have no more than 12 to 15 minutes to find
Update 3:43pm ET:
According to CNN, Hawaii Gov. David Ige says that there was
never any missile threat or drill and that staff error was
responsible for the alert.
“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the
change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong
button,” Ige told press.
Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz added that “What happened today is
totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs
to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”
Per CNBC, residents could be seen fleeing for safety after
the alert went out, while some locals received frantic messages
from loved ones urging them to take shelter. Although officials
sent another message to locals informing them of the error,
they did so only 38 minutes later, compounding the mistake and
leaving many Hawaiians hiding in cover for the duration.