Hawaii governor apologizes for 'pain and confusion' caused by false missile attack alert

Hawaiian Governor David Ige apologized on Saturday for the 'pain and confusion' caused by a false ballistic missile attack alert.

In a conciliatory news conference, Ige promised to evaluate the testing system to ensure such a mistake would never happen again.


The alert sent the islands into a panic, with people abandoning cars in a highway and preparing to flee their homes until officials said the cellphone alert was a mistake.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi said the error happened when someone pushed the wrong button.

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

Amid months of heightened nuclear tension between the U.S. and North Korea, the Saturday morning alert that went to cellphones and televisions read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

The Hawaii Emergency Management agency tweeted that the alert was false within 15 minutes of it being sent out around 8 a.m., but cellphone screenshots show a delay of nearly 40 minutes between the original alert and another declaring it to be a false alarm.

Alarms went off at a crowded gymnastics festival, causing a rush of people trying to get to back rooms.

"I was with my two little girls who are eight and 10 and kids were crying and no body really knew what to do," an attendee told HNN.

Jaime Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was cancelling their appointments and was closing his shop for the day. He said he was still in bed when the phone started going off “like crazy.” He thought it was a tsunami warning at first.

“I woke up and saw missile warning and thought no way. I thought ‘No, this is not happening today,’” Malapit said, adding he was still “a little freaked out” and feeling paranoid even after hearing it was a false alarm.

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii was angry with the mistake.

"There is no MISSILE THREAT," he tweeted. "It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawaii than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process."

"What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process."

Honolulu attorney Richard Ing found some humor in the situation but acknowledged there are lessons to be learned.

"I thought to myself, it must be someone’s last day at work or someone got extremely upset at a superior and basically did this as a practical joke," he said. "But I think it’s a very serious problem if it wasn’t that, or even it was, it shows that we have problems in the system that can cause major disruption and panic and anxiety among people in Hawaii."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source : http://www.wesh.com/article/false-ballistic-missile-alert-goes-out-in-hawaii/15155172

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