It was 8 a.m. on Saturday morning when people in Hawaii started receiving warnings about an incoming ballistic missile and people found themselves in a panic. Electronic devices started to blare-off these warnings as folks were just waking up and for about 20-30 minutes they were under the impression that this was a real threat, with many running to “take cover” as the message directed.
It wasn’t until about 8:20 a.m. that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent out another message simply stating: “NO missile threat to Hawaii.” This tweet gave no explanation at all, it just said that there was “no threat.”
The emergency alert sent to the cell phones of residents and visitors of Hawaii said:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Then another “alert” was sent out at about 8:45 a.m. advising people that this was a “false alarm.”
The U.S. Navy then confirmed that an alert had been sent in error via an email, according to The Washington Post. That message read the following.
“USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii,” U.S. Navy Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command, said in an email. “Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible.”
It is not clear how this happened but what is clear is that the North Korean threat of nuclear missiles made this alert very realistic and extremely serious to the people of Hawaii. According to Fox News live coverage of the event, people were in a panic with witnesses reporting “pandemonium” in Hawaii this morning. One man told them that his wife and kids were hiding in a garage and crying while waiting for this “incoming ballistic missile.”
The panic in Hawaii reported by Fox News during their live coverage of the aftermath of this false alarm was seen and heard across the Pacific paradise. People said wheels of cars were screeching and people were running once the initial message went out.
NPR News reports that the message also blared across Hawaiian television stations. According to the live coverage on Fox News, the sirens were also blaring adding realistic sounds to this “human error” false alarm.
Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said that this ballistic missile threat was “based on human error.” It was just two months ago when Hawaii reinstated its Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens with the threat of North Korea missiles looming. These sirens blare on the first business day of each month as a type of drill.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard tweeted out to the people of Hawaii that this alert was a false alarm shortly after the first message came across their electronic devices calling for people to take cover. But it was chaos and not everyone happened to see the “false alarm” messages and tweets saying there was no threat as they were posted. Some folks spent more than 30 minutes thinking they were soon to be under attack. That tweet fro Gabbard is seen below.
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
Pamphlets were issued to people in Hawaii around the same time the decision to start up the siren testing occurred. Those pamphlets were for “nuclear attack preparedness” which encouraged people to do a few things, including stop using hair conditioner.
According to a previous article from The Washington Post, hair conditioner will “bind the toxins to your hair.” The directions talked about supplies and how long they would need to stay put after a nuclear attack. They were also told what to avoid while preparing for a possibility of such event and hair conditioner was one of the things people were warned to stop using. This previous attempt to prepare the people of Hawaii added an even more realistic possibility to the warnings that went out today.
According to Fox News, the investigation is already underway as to how this false alarm happened today. Officials now have concerns that if a real alarm would need to be issued in the future, because of this false alarm today — a real alarm may not be taken seriously.