January 13, 2018 2:56 pm
Updated: January 14, 2018 9:53 am

Accidental ballistic missile alert warning issued to cell phones, TV and radio in Hawaii

WATCH ABOVE: Hawaiians and tourists woke up to a chilling alert today. It was an emergency warning about an incoming nuclear attack from North Korea. But as Robin Gill reports, it was all a huge mistake.

A A

Accidental warnings appeared on cell phones, TV and radio in Hawaii early Saturday morning, which told people that a ballistic missile was headed toward the U.S. state, multiple people reported on Twitter.

On cell phones, the emergency alert read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

The emergency alert was sent to cellphones just after 8 a.m local time.
WATCH: A man recorded a message to his daughter after getting the erroneous missile alert message alert in Hawaii.

Thirty-eight minutes later an update was sent to cell phones noting that it was an error, Global BC’s Lynn Colliar said on Twitter.

Colliar, who is in Hawaii on vacation, said tourists were warned immediately, about monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens.

“We had been hearing since we got here about the alarms that they have,” she explained. “They’ve been telling everybody, ‘We’re using these sirens, we’re practising with these sirens. If you hear them — if you don’t have any prior alerts — it means that it’s just a drill.

How did a ballistic missile alert warning accidentally get sent out in Hawaii?

“This alert came saying, ‘This is not a drill’ and yet there was no siren. Right away, that made us questions what was going on.”

Colliar said there was some confusion at first but that everything is back to normal.

“There were a lot of people milling around, no one really knew what to do. But Hawaii is Hawaii, everyone is back at the beach looking relieved.”

READ MORE: ‘A big sense of relief’: Global BC anchor on vacation in Hawaii talks false missile alert 

Hawaii Gov. David Ige explained the human error which caused the alert to be issued.

“It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift,” Ige told CBS News. “Where they go through to make sure that the system is working and an employee pushed the wrong button.”

One Twitter user also posted a video which shows a soccer game on TV being interrupted with an alert.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency issued a tweet at 8:20 a.m. local time, which simply read, “NO missile threat to Hawaii,” without providing further details.

The Federal Communications Commission said it was launching a “full investigation” into a false wireless emergency alert that a ballistic missile was headed for Hawaii, the chairman of the commission said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz also issued a tweet noting that it was a “false alarm.”

He issued a second note shortly thereafter.

Many people shared tales of reaction to the incident on Twitter.

Jamie Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was cancelling their appointments and was closing his shop for the day. He said he was still in bed when the phone started going off “like crazy.” He thought it was a tsunami warning at first.

“I woke up and saw missile warning and thought no way. I thought ‘No, this is not happening today’,” Malapit said.

He was still “a little freaked out” and feeling paranoid even after hearing it was a false alarm.

“I went from panic to semi panic and ‘Are we sure?'” he said.

WATCH: Global BC anchor Lynn Colliar, who was on vacation in Hawaii, describes her reaction and those around her as she got an accidental missile alert warning.

Richard Ing, a Honolulu attorney, was doing a construction project at home when his wife told him about the alert.

He dug his phone out and had confirmed he had the same alert. Attempts to find further information on the television or radio didn’t provide further information, but then he saw on Twitter that it was a false alarm.

While he was trying to confirm, his wife and children were preparing to evacuate in case they needed to move to safer ground.

READ MORE: Trump makes first public comments since Hawaii false missile alarm panic — to slam Michael Wolff

The incident occurred amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of a ballistic nuclear weapon.

North Korean president Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against the U.S. territory of Guam or U.S. states, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang.

Trump was briefed on Saturday after an official message was mistakenly sent to Hawaii residents’ mobile phones warning them of an imminent ballistic missile attack. “The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii‘s emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is home to the U.S. Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.

WATCH: Hawaii Emergency Management says investigation will ensure false alarm ‘never happens again’

In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter-century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, state officials said at the time.

*With files from Associated Press and Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.