"NO missile threat to Hawaii"; False alarm triggered by human error
Vern Miyagi of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency say the alert sent out Saturday morning of a ballistic missile threat to Hawaii was a false alarm.
HONOLULU - Vern Miyagi of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says the text alert sent out Saturday morning of a ballistic missile threat to Hawaii was a false alarm.
Miyagi says there will be an investigation to find out how this wrong alert was sent out.
The original alert that was sent on smartphones read, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
Another alert was sent out later saying, "There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False alarm."
We have our reporters out and about to gather as much information on this story. Stay with Island News online and our 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts for more on this developing news story.
Elected officials have been responding to Saturday's false alarm:
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“The false missile warning that took place at 8:07 Saturday morning cannot be repeated as it caused extreme anxiety and concern for our local residents and visitors, and the country as a whole."
"I have met with the chiefs of the city’s first responders and key members of my cabinet, and our departments acted as though the threat was real. HPD confirmed the false warning three minutes after it was issued by the state Emergency Management Agency and immediately began using their bullhorns to inform the public throughout Oahu, including Waikiki, that no threat existed."
"It’s clear that the process to alert the public of a false missile warning needs to be improved, and we will do our best to ensure that this occurs," the mayor said.
Gov. David Ige said, “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."
U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa said, "We need to understand how a serious error like this happened because people react in real time to protect their families, especially in Hawaii, where we live with the threat of a nuclear attack from adversaries across the Pacific. A thorough, impartial investigation must be conducted, immediately.
"I have reached out to U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and the State administration to try and understand what happened."
"It should not take more than 30 minutes to retract a statewide alert claiming 'BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,'" Hanabusa said.
"Our early warning system has to work as effectively as possible given our strategic military importance and geographic location in the Pacific. We cannot have our residents and visitors running around in chaos for more than half an hour. The panic and fear created by this false alarm was dangerous and irresponsible."
"Thankfully, the threat this morning was not real. But if we can take anything away from this, it is that we must be vigilant and prepared for any situation," she said.
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono says, "Today’s alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again."
Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. said "The Hawaii State Emergency Management Agency is investigating the cause of this morning's false alarm. This was a very serious error that occurred and we will all work together to restore the public's faith in our state emergency alert system.
"However, right now is not the time to point blame, but rather to reflect on how we, as government officials and emergency response agencies, can and will improve our policies and procedures in the event of a true missile threat. It is also an opportunity for each member of our community to better prepare ourselves and our families for an emergency situation. We will work together to share and provide updated information on this incident as we receive it," the mayor said.
State House Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement after the false missile strike alarm: "This system we have been told to rely upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences. Measures must be taken to avoid further incidents that caused wholesale alarm and chaos today.
"Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes."
"The Hawaii House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happened and there will be consequences. This cannot happen again," he said.
State Sen. Will Espero says, "It appears like a major error occurred with the state of Hawaii Emergency Alert system. The notice of a possible missile heading to Hawaii has caused much anxiety, panic, stress, and fear to Hawaii residents. This enormous mistake is unacceptable."
"Hawaii's civil defense system failed Hawaii's residents this morning. The checks and procedures in place to confirm and re-confirm the public notification process failed Hawaii. Governor Ige must find out what happened and make certain this never occurs again."
"This type of error is a poor reflection of the state Department of Defense and the civil defense system which are expected to protect Hawaii's residents," he said.