Eugene Tanner/Getty Images

False Emergency Alert of Incoming Ballistic Missile Attack Rattles Hawaii

Mobile phones in Hawaii received a harrowing alert Saturday morning: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The warning also appears to have been broadcast on television. The alerts sparked panic and caused a few harrowing minutes as people didn’t know whether to believe the stark warning. Emergency officials corrected the error about 20 minutes after the initial alert went out, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.


It wasn’t just civilians who didn’t know what was going on.
Andrew Flowers shared a screencap on Twitter of a text message he received from his father, an Army major stationed in Hawaii, who said they didn’t know whether the warning was real. “I called your mom and told her I love her and we waited to see what is true or not,” he wrote.

A few minutes after the initial alert went out, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that it was all a false alarm.


That was confirmed by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency that tweeted: “NO missile threat to Hawaii.” A spokesman for the U.S.
military’s Pacific command also said it “detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii.”


Even though the initial message warned that “THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” it turns out the whole thing may have actually been a drill gone wrong. “We’re in a process of sending another message to cancel the initial message. It was part of a drill that was going on,” a spokesperson for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency told BuzzFeed News. It isn’t quite clear what caused the false alarm.

The initial alert went out at around 8:07 a.m., the state then sent an email alerting about the mistake at 8:25 a.m. but didn’t send out a cellphone correction until around 38 minutes after the initial alert, according to the timeline by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

More from News and Politics

U.S. Is Putting Its Trade War With China “On Hold” for Now, Says Treasury Secretary

Has Paul Ryan Already Lost Control of the House?

Santa Fe Gunman Killed a Girl Who Reportedly Turned Down His Advances a Week Earlier

New NRA President Oliver North Blames School Shootings on Ritalin, “Culture of Violence”

Trump Doubles Down on Unhinged Rant, “Hereby Demands” Probe Into Whether FBI “Infiltrated” Campaign

Houston Police Chief Says He’s “Hit Rock Bottom” With Pro-Gun Views After School Shooting