Hawaii missile alert: False alarm warns residents of "ballistic missile threat"


"We are going to process this and study this to make sure this doesn't happen again".

"I deeply apologize for the trouble and heartbreak that we caused today", said Vern Miyagi, administrator of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency.

Both Miyagi and Ige promised a single person will not be able to make such an error in the future.

When an emergency alert was sent to mobile phones state-wide in the USA state of Hawaii on Saturday, warning an impending ballistic missile, a panic ensued for 38 minutes before the authorities retracted the warning as an error.

Several golfers participating in the US PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu also reacted to the alarming episode.

"I called my next door neighbor and I told him what was happening and I said 'Will you please go sit with my mother and my sister?'" Smith said.

Charles Howell III was among players staying at the Kahala Hotel on the golf course.

"That's like someone yelling "fire" in a crowded building, you just don't do that", Larry said. It got everyone's attention.

And Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on social media the panel would launch an investigation.

It was sent out by Hawaii Emergency Management Agency in error, but not cancelled until almost 40 minutes after it was issued.

"The worst part was watching my children for 38 minutes thinking they were going to die while we were together in a laundry room", she said. As to why it took the agency almost 40 minutes to inform the public that the alert was bogus, Miyagi said that officials were forced to go through a number of steps as there was no deactivation template in place.

Experts say the base, headquarters for the USA military's Pacific Command, would be a prime target for an attack by North Korea.

An image of the false emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. The authorities are now investigating reports that some of the carriers failed to deliver the initial alert.

The White House said US President Donald Trump had been briefing about the incident, calling the alert "purely a state exercise".

The alerts to Hawaii cellphone users were issued at about 8:07 a.m. local time (1807 GMT), saying "ballistic missile threat inbound" and urging residents to seek shelter immediately.

"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". "The change of shift is about three people".

"I know firsthand that what happened today was totally unacceptable", Governor David Ige said of the alert, which was also broadcast on some local television stations. Then came the second mobile alert: someone hit the wrong button, there was no missile.

The alert stated there was a threat "inbound to Hawaii" and for residents to seek shelter and that "this is not a drill".

But despite the widespread panic, a number of Japanese tourists and residents of the island state interviewed by The Japan Times voiced a more composed reaction to the false alarm.