Hawaii shocked by ballistic missile false alarm
January 24, 2018
Waves of panic spread across the state of Hawaii on Saturday as citizens received a false emergency message warning of an incoming ballistic missile threat.
“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill,” the message said.
The false alarm was triggered by an error that occurred at Hawaii’s emergency management administration.
“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” said Hawai’i Governor David Ige.
It took almost 40 minutes before a correctional message was sent out saying “there is no threat.” Many have expressed their disappointment and condemnation of the error and the lack of a prompt correction.
“What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process,” said Hawai’i Senator Brian Schatz.
State officials have taken responsibility and have apologized for the error and the subsequent panic that ensued.
“Today is a day that most of us will never forget. A day when many in our community thought our worst nightmare might actually be happening,” Governor Ige said, adding “I know first-hand that what happened today was totally unacceptable, and many in our community were deeply affected by this. And I’m sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced.”
Vern Miyagi, the administrator for the Hawai’i Emergency Management Administration, also took the blame for the error stating, “It’s my responsibility, so this would be my fault.”
This error comes at a time when Hawai’i is on extreme edge due to the recent increase in tensions between the United States and North Korea, thus contributing to the gravity of the situation and highlighting the reasoning behind the backlash.
“At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again,” tweeted Hawai’i Senator Mazie Hirono.
With the threat of nuclear war on the horizon, it is not out of the question that human errors such as this one could accidentally kickstart the unthinkable.
“The risk of accidental nuclear war is not hypothetical — accidents have happened in the past, and humans will err again,” tweeted former Defense Secretary William Perry, who served under former President Bill Clinton. “When the lives of millions are at risk, we must do more than just hope that mistakes won’t happen.”