Hawaii emergency officials say alert of ballistic missile threat was mistake

HONOLULU — Hawaii emergency officials say an alert of a ballistic missile threat is a false alarm.

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

The alert caused a panic when it went to people’s cellphones Saturday morning but, shortly after, authorities said it was a mistake.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza says it’s not clear what caused the alert to go out.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz says a false alarm about a missile threat was based on “human error” and was “totally inexcusable.”

Schatz went on his Twitter account after emergency management officials confirmed the push alert about an incoming missile Saturday was a mistake, calling for accountability and an alert process that is foolproof.

Hawaii Governor, David Ige took to twitter regarding the false alarm saying he is “working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.”

Hawaii Gov. David Ige told CNN that human error caused the alert to go out.

“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” he said.

The warning went out to television and radio as well as cell phones, Ige added.

 

A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.

 

0Commander David Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command confirmed in a statement that there is no threat: “USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii,” the statement read. “Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible.”

White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters referred all questions about the alert to the Department of Defense.

A White House official told reporters later Saturday that the President was briefed on the emergency management exercise. “This was purely a state exercise,” the official said.

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono echoed that point in her own tweet.

“At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to community is accurate,” she wrote. “We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency are monitoring the situation, a US official told CNN.