People in Hawaii have shared harrowing accounts after receiving a false ballistic missile threat alert on Saturday.
Residents woke up to an incorrect message sent to their mobile phones this morning warning that an attack on the North Pacific US state was imminent.
But about 30 minutes later the US military’s Pacific Command said it “detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii” and that the message warning had been sent in error.
The incident occurred amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of a ballistic nuclear weapon.
U.S. Pacific Command has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon possible. pic.twitter.com/hqidbV0BWn— U.S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) January 13, 2018
Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against the US territory of Guam or US states, prompting Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang.
The message was sent by text at 8:07am local time (18:07 GMT) and it took about 30 minutes for officials to send a follow-up text correcting the alert.
Many people who were in Hawaii or have loved ones currently in the US state shared their harrowing ordeals on social media.
This was my phone when I woke up just now. I'm in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ— Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018
A big issue with today’s false alarm: how long it took for an official alert to go out saying it was, in fact , a false alarm.— Lisa Feierman (@lisathefeierman) January 13, 2018
I received this text from a dear friend describing her family in Hawaii’s experience + how tweets were what revealed there was no real threat. Scary. pic.twitter.com/s7CovtD9wi
“Someone else I know went to a makeshift shelter with a bottle of wine and bottles of pills... The stories coming out are nuts,” my friend adds.— Lisa Feierman (@lisathefeierman) January 13, 2018
My heart is breaking. No doubt a major investigation is underway, and as a result someone must be held accountable for today.
So sorry for all the people in Hawaii who went through that — we know someone who’s there with her family. Crying in closet texting goodbyes to loved ones, husband shielding their baby. Sounds traumatic. Hang in there, folks.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 13, 2018
so people know what it’s like to be in hawaii right now, there are still old people crying in the street in my neighborhood that I had to tell “no we’re not going to die, and yes trump is still president”— Sarah Beattie (@nachosarah) January 13, 2018
Some people went to airline or TSA staff to ask what to do and where to go to take shelter. No one had any answers. There was no announcement over the airport or airline PAs at any time. One staff member said, ‘our manager told us to pray’.— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) January 13, 2018
I just truly want to know how you mistakenly send a ballistic missile warning to everyone in Hawaii... I legit thought I was going to die at 8am that is not okay— Jinni❥ (@JinniAnn) January 13, 2018
A cop pulled up to my moms house back home in Hawaii, he steps out of his car already crying, he talked to my family and said it was a mistake & there was no attack coming.. YALL GOT THE PEOPLE OF HAWAII THINKING TODAY WAS GONNA BE THEIR LAST DAY TO LIVE.— Adrina-Rose (@dreensxo) January 13, 2018
A spokeswoman for US Representative Tulsi Gabbard said she checked with the state agency that issued the alert and was told it was sent in error.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s Twitter account also said “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”
Hawaii has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the US Census Bureau, and is home to the U.S. Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.
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 of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, Reuters reports.