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Hawaii residents mistakenly sent emergency message warning them to seek shelter from missile

Posted at 12:38 PM, Jan 13, 2018

An emergency alert was mistakenly sent to residents of Hawaii Saturday that told people to seek immediate shelter.

Screenshots bouncing around social media show alerts reading, in all caps "BALLISTIC MISSILE INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

The messages appear to have been sent on Apple's emergency message system.

Hawaii EMA sent a correction notification at 1:45 ET, 38 minutes after sending out its initial message.





The alerts were sent through mobile push alerts and TV alerts. Reports from the island indicate that alert sirens did not go off.



Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was among the first to confirm on Twitter that the alert was mistakenly sent out, and there was no threat of a missile.



The message was sent amid heightened nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige told CNN that human error caused the alert to go out.

"It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button," he said.

The warning went out to television and radio as well as cell phones, Ige added.

The governor's remarks come after Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi headed to the agency's 24-hour operations center to find out why the false alert was sent out, according to an email to CNN.

"The warning was a mistake," Miyagi said.

A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.

Officials in Hawaii have maintained the alert was a mistake, but the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told KMGH that the message was "possibly a hack" or a “very sick joke.”  NORAD added it was going to look into “how that alert came about or how it stated.”

FCC chairman Ajit Pai says his agency will also investigate how the alert message was sent.




Commander David Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command confirmed in a statement that there is no threat: "USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii," the statement read. "Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible."

White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters referred all questions about the alert to the Department of Defense.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also took to Twitter on Saturday in the wake of the false alarm.

"There is no missile threat," the Democratic senator tweeted. "It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawaii than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process."

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono echoed that point in her own tweet.

"At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to community is accurate," she wrote. "We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again."