Panic ensued for a few brief moments on Saturday after a false emergency alert notice was issued of an impending missile threat to Hawaii.
Multiple people reported receiving emergency alerts on their phones on Saturday reading: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Many shared screenshots of the alerts, all identical, on Twitter.
The alert also seems to have appeared on television.
TV with the alert pic.twitter.com/VCZAtvyuzQ— Michelle Broder Van Dyke (@michellebvd) January 13, 2018
While scary, the alert appears to have been a false alarm. Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency quickly tweeted that there was no missile threat to Hawaii. BuzzFeed News reporter Michelle Broder Van Dyke said that officials said there was no threat and the alert was sent by mistake.
NO missile threat to Hawaii.— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) took to Twitter to inform constituents that the alert had been a false alarm as well.
HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018
A NORAD spokesperson told BuzzFeed News’s David Mack they are “trying to figure out where this came from or how it started” and assured him that “there is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now.” Per White House pool reports, President Trump was out on a golf course when the alert was sent.
NORAD spokesman Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki tells me: "There is no missile threat. We're trying to figure out where this came from or how this started. There is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now."— David Mack (@davidmackau) January 13, 2018
He adds, "My phone's been blowing up."
PACOM STATEMENT JUST NOW:— Sam LaGrone (@samlagrone) January 13, 2018
"USPACOM 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 as possible."
Assurances that the alert was an error was met with relief — and, of course, questions about how it happened in the first place.
Forty-five minutes after the initial alert was sent, Hawaii’s office of Emergency Management sent another message saying the previous alert was a false alarm.
Hawaii Emergency Management sends out message saying the missile alert is a false alarm 45 minutes later pic.twitter.com/Y79Phzearz— Honolulu Civil Beat (@CivilBeat) January 13, 2018
This story is developing.