Officials are responding after Hawaiians were sent into a frenzy Saturday morning after receiving an emergency alert warning them to seek immediate shelter from a ballistic missile threat, reports NBC. 38 minutes passed before they received another official mobile alert that the previous message was a false alarm.
On Saturday afternoon, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi announced at a press conference that a single individual had made the mistake. “I accept responsibility for this,” said Miyagi. “This is my team. We made a mistake. We are going to process this and study this to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Local television interrupted normal programs to alert viewers that the missile warning was in effect at 8:07 a.m. until 6:07 p.m. Following the false mobile alert at 8:07 a.m., officials had quickly checked with the military’s U.S. Pacific Command to ensure there was no missile threat. At 8:20 a.m., the state’s Emergency Management Agency tweeted, “NO missile threat to Hawaii.” The second mobile alert notifying residents of the mistake was sent at 8:45 a.m., 38 minutes after the first alert.
HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018
“USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible,” said Cdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command.
The error led to a huge discussion over how such a thing could happen, especially when there are such high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Kim Jong-un had claimed recently that the “entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons.” Just Wednesday, Trump apparently expressed that he will be open to dialogue with North Korea when it’s “appropriate.” “We’ve always supported having talks with North Korea as long as they’re credible and serious,” said a Trump administration official.
“What my family went through and what so many families in Hawaii just went through is a true realization that they have 15 minutes to seek some form of shelter or else they’re dead — gone,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told MSNBC. She questioned how such a mistake could even happen and why it took so long to correct it.
“We’ve got to get to the underlying issue here of why are the people of Hawaii and this country facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea today, and what is this President doing urgently to eliminate that threat?” Gabbard said, according to CNN. “I’ve been calling on President Trump to directly negotiate with North Korea, to sit across the table from Kim Jong-un.”
“We have the sirens, we have cell phones, we have internet and social media mechanisms,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said at a press conference on Saturday. “We know that we need to be able to broadcast messages across all platforms. There was no automated way to send a false alarm [to wireless devices]. We had to initiate a manual process. That is why it took a while to notify everyone.”
Miyagi explained that a new team had come in after a shift change to test the ballistic missile checklist. However, the wrong button was pushed, sending the alert for an actual event instead of for the test. The responsible individual will not be fired but he and his coworkers will be retrained, according to Miyagi.
According to officials, Hawaii plans to utilize a new protocol before sending out a similar alert in the future, including adding a second person to the process. The Federal Communications Commission plans to begin its own investigation on the incident, according to Chairman Ajit Pai.
I am meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
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