Hawaii’s scary false missile threat: Worker’s push of the ‘wrong button’ to blame

Hawaii emergency officers confirmed Saturday evening that an alert about an inbound ballistic missile was a mistake, which a state emergency officer attributed to someone pushing the incorrect button.

Vern Miyagi, who oversees the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency( EMA ), said at a news conference late Saturday that while employees were changing shifts earlier in the day and doing a test of their ballistic missile prep checklist, the incorrect button was pushed.

An emergency alert of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, which was sent to the islands early Saturday morning, read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Rather than triggering a test of the system, it went into actual event mode. He confirmed that to trigger the alert, there is a two-step process involving only one employee — who both triggers the alarm, then also confirms it.

“There is a screen that says, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? ‘” Miyagi said. The employee confirmed the alert, unwittingly causing a panic in a state already on edge over saber-rattling missile threats from North Korea.


Hawaii Gov. David Ige said there wasn’t a process in place to send out a message stating “that this is a false alarm.”

“You know, we were not prepared for that, the fact that an alert was publish that was incorect, ” Ige said. “So we have that built now.”

At about 8: 07 a.m. local period, Hawaii citizens received an emergency alerting on their telephone that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

At 8: 20 a.m. local day, Hawaii EMA tweeted that there was “NO missile threat” to the state. However, the tweet didn’t reach people who aren’t on the social media platform.


Roughly 15 minutes later, the U.S. Pacific Command issued a statement, clarifying there was “no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii.”

It wasn’t until 38 minutes after the first warn — at 8: 45 a.m. — that Hawaii’s EMA alerted mobile devices across the islands that that initial alert was a false alarm.

At the news conference late Saturday, Miyagi said that there will now be a two-person rule implemented for sending exam alerts and actual alerts. He also offered an apology for the emphasizes resulting from the false alarm.

“I deeply apologize for the trouble and the heartbreak that we caused today, ” Miyagi said, taking responsibility for the incident as he called it a result of human error. “We made a mistake.”

He added that EMA will “hold off” on future tests of the system “until we get this squared away.”

Gov. Ige said Saturday is “a day that most of us will never forget, ” a day Hawaii residents supposed “our worst nightmare might be happening.”

“I know firsthand that was happened today was totally unacceptable and many in our community was deep has an impact on this, ” Ige said. “And I’m sorry for that ache and confusion that anyone might’ve experienced.”

Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki said the system state residents have been told to rely on failed miserably on Saturday.

“Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations, ” Saiki said. He also noted that the State House would begin an immediate investigation.

Many social media users posted footage of the emergency alert being broadcast on local television.

“The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii. A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. This is not a drill, ” the television broadcast stated. “If you are indoors, stay indoors. If you are outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a build. Remain indoors well away from windows.”

“If you are driving, pulling safely to the side of the road and seek shelter in a house or lay on the floor. We will announce when security threats has ended. This is not a drill. Take immediate action measures, ” the broadcast concluded.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram spoke with two people on the Kona side of the Big Island who said they were told to stay in their hotel room and that there was a missile incoming.

One Twitter user posted a photo of a message committee on a Hawaiian road that read: “MISSILE ALERT IN ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT.”

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, tweeted: “There is no missile threat. It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawaii than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.”

In a follow-up tweet, he adopted a stern tone: “What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole nation was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, tweeted that she would work to find out what occurred.

A White House official said President Trump, who is spending the weekend in Florida, had been briefed on the episode, which they said “was purely a nation exercise.”

Ige said in an earlier statement that “while I am thankful this morning’s alerting 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.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai also took to social media about the Hawaii episode, announcing that the panel would initiate an investigation.

Fox News’ Jennifer Bowman, Lee Ross, Lucas Tomlinson and Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers transgressing and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

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