Hawaii spent a tense forty minutes waiting for a ballistic missile attack that never came. An emergency alert notification sent out to citizens warning of the attack was actually a false alarm although it took officials over half an hour to issue a correction.
The message read ‘BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’
While the message created concern on social media, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency tweeted that there was no need for panic and the alert was indeed a false alarm. Details are unclear as to why the alert was sent out, but it is thought to have either been human error or a technical mistake.
Hawaii’s Democratic Senator, Mazie Hirono said, “At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.”
The false alarm comes amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States following North Korea’s nuclear missile tests and Donald Trump’s goading of Kim Jong-un via Twitter.
Kim Jong-un recently claimed that the latest nuclear missile tests last year meant that North Korea was now capable of striking the American West Coast. Despite hopes of a thaw between North and South Korea, tensions are still worryingly high.
Hawaii has begun preparing and testing its early warning systems in preparation of an attack or a potential nuclear test. The state tested its nuclear warning siren for the first time since the end of the Cold War back in December and the local representative promised that the system would be professionalized and fool-proofed as soon as possible.