Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Hawaii officials mistakenly warn of inbound missile heading straight for area

Published:Saturday | January 13, 2018 | 5:20 PM
This smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday. - AP Photo

HONOLULU (AP):
A push alert that warned of a ballistic missile heading straight for Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic Saturday was issued by mistake, state emergency officials said.

The emergency alert, which was sent to cellphones just before 8:10 a.m., said in all caps, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted that there was no threat about 10 minutes later. But a revised push alert stating there was no threat went out sometime after that.

Agency spokesman Richard Repoza confirmed it was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened.

The incident prompted defense agencies including the Pentagon and the US Pacific Command to issue the same statement, that they had "detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii."

Michael Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said NORAD and the US Northern Command are still trying to verify what happened in Hawaii - but that "NORAD did not see anything that indicated any sort of threat to Hawaii."

NORAD is a US-Canada joint command that conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning to defend North America.

The White House said President Donald Trump, who is in Florida, was briefed on the false alert. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said it "was purely a state exercise."

The alert caused a tizzy on the island and across social media.