False alerts advising Hawaiians to “seek immediate shelter” from an incoming ballistic missile caused understandable terror on Twitter Saturday.
Residents of the the Aloha State were woken up by their mobile phones on Saturday morning as notifications were blasted telling that a “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” according to social media posts.
Though the message said it was “an extreme alert” and “not a drill,” followup messages 38 minutes later explained it was a mistake. “State Warning Point has issued a Missile Alert in ERROR! There is NO threat to the State of Hawaii!” the Honolulu police department wrote on their website.
“It was a false alarm based on human error,” added Sen.Brian Schatz of Hawaii on Twitter, explaining that “there is nothing more important to Hawaii than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.”
“What happened today is totally inexcusable,” he continued. “The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”
There is no missile threat. It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawai‘i than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018
AGAIN FALSE ALARM. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018
“Terrified” is an understatement. Hawaii’s roughly 1.5 million residents and their visitors went into sheer panic, many — including Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles‘ Josh Flagg — taking to Twitter and Instagram to express their fear.
“It was a false alarm but I spent 40 mins balling my eyes out and praying for my life,” wrote one user.
Loving living in Hawaii so far!!????????— Sarah?? (@Sarah_Scarbo14) January 13, 2018
(It was a false alarm but I spent 40 mins balling my eyes out and praying for my life) pic.twitter.com/6UCUYEJtrM
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. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ— Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018
Just now....little too late Hawaii Government! My son told me “mom it’s too late, there is nowhere to go. It’s going to hit us either way.” Now Hawaii representatives explain how you talk to your child about that!!! Seriously! pic.twitter.com/Eziv0WJxwG— Bonnie Cadger (@bonnie_cadger) January 13, 2018
My brother, a veteran & former Trump supporter in Hawaii, sent a single sentence with "I love you all" and this screenshot. Hawaii has been prepping for a missile strike since last year. I never once worried about nuclear war when Obama was president. pic.twitter.com/V3rCvfJssh— Diana (@dianaM2017) January 13, 2018
I woke up and thought my girlfriend was dead. God damnit Hawaii pic.twitter.com/gRHvBRGnGh— MrChemist (@Earshawd) January 13, 2018
Hawaii representative Matt LoPresti called into CNN to tell his story, revealing that he and his family immediately sought shelter in the most inner room of their house.
“I was sitting in the bathtub with my children saying our prayers and fielding hone calls and messages from friends, families, and colleagues,” he said. “I was wondering why couldn’t hear the emergency sirens and that was my first clue that maybe something was wrong. But we took it as seriously as a heart attack. … I am extremely angry right now.”
Hawaii’s governor David Ige also spoke out about the incident on Twitter.
“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” he wrote in a statement. “I am meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.”
Hawaii has been on high alert of a nuclear strike in the back and forth jabs traded between North Korea and president Donald Trump.
“At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate,” Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, said on Twitter. “We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.”