On Saturday morning, residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert on their cellphones warning of a ballistic missile threat. The alert caused fear and panic in the state before it was confirmed to have been a false alarm.
The alert, which was received by residents shortly after 8 a.m. local time, warned them of an inbound missile and prompted them to take shelter. The warning read, ”BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The message was sent by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency in error. After alarmed residents posted screenshots of the alert on Twitter, authorities labeled the warning as a false report.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that that alert was a false alarm and that she had confirmed with officials that there was no danger to the island.
Likewise, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency also confirmed that there was no threat and said that it was investigating the incident.
The United States Pacific Command also confirmed that the warning was a false alarm. “U.S. Pacific Command has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error,” the command twitted. “State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon possible.”
It took authorities over 30 minutes to push out another message confirming that the previous alert was incorrect and that there was no ballistic missile threat to the island.
In a statement, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said that the cause of the mishap was human error and not an external hack. The agency also detailed measures that it took to prevent the incident from happening again.
“We understand that false alarms such as this can erode public confidence in our emergency notification systems, read the agency’s statement. “We understand the serious nature of the warning alert systems and the need to get this right 100% of the time.”