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False alarm: Emergency alert in Hawaii claims 'missile inbound'

Richard Lawler

A few minutes ago, phones across Hawaii received the above emergency alert about a "ballistic missile threat inbound," but according to state officials it isn't true. US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii's governer David Ige and the state's Hawaii Emergency Management Agency all chimed in on Twitter to confirm the alert is false. It took 38 minutes before a second alert reached phones, confirming that the first one was a mistake.

Honolulu police confirmed in a post that "State Warning Point has issued a Missile Alert in ERROR!," while Buzzfeed reporter Amber Jamieson tweets that one EMA employee said it was a part of a drill. US Senator from Hawaii Brian Schatz said the "inexcusable" alert "was a false alarm based on a human error" while the National Weather Service called it a "test message."

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

In 2016 the FCC voted to expand Wireless Emergency Alerts, allowing for more detailed messages that can recommend action, or link to more information about an AMBER Alert. Later this month, it will vote on changes that could allow for more precisely targeted local alerts. This incident will probably come up in the discussion.

Update: The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency broadcast a press conference about the incident live on Facebook.

"We definitely need to improve our procedures," says Hawaii Gov. David Ige, telling reporters that false ballistic missile alert was caused by someone pushing "the wrong button" https://t.co/NCVtyRxlOahttps://t.co/7PrEk68pXD

— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 13, 2018

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (Twitter), David Ige (Twitter), NOAA National Weather Service, CNN

  • This article originally appeared on Engadget.