Honolulu, Hawaii : Set to meet with top State Department and Defense officials on Saturday, Hawaii Governor David Ige (Democrat) said that he was working to get to the bottom of the error, after a push alert – issued by mistake – warned of a ballistic missile heading straight for Hawaii.
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. Agency spokesman Richard Repoza confirmed it was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said such errors must be prevented 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 state. Within minutes of the notification being sent out, U.S. officials assured the public that no ballistic missile had been fired and that the warning was made in error.
The incident prompted defense agencies including the Pentagon and the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-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.”
Still, the false alarm drew swift rebukes from lawmakers in Hawaii, who said that the incident highlighted flaws in the system for pushing out such emergency alerts. They called for a quick fix to the process.
The alert came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which has claimed to have nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S.