Panic Ensues After False Alarm Warns Of Incoming Ballistic Missile Threat To Hawaii

Residents of Hawaii woke up to a terrifying notification on Saturday morning when the Emergency Alert Service issued a ballistic missile warning, telling residents to "seek immediate shelter."

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the alert, which was delivered at approximately 8:07 a.m. HST, reads.

SEE ALSO: How wireless emergency alerts work

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

U.S. Represenative Tulsi Gabbard tweeted shortly after the alert, confirming that it was a false alarm. 

"I have confirmed with officials there is no incoming missile," she wrote. 

The Twitter account for Hawaii Emergency Management also noted that there there was no threat to the state.

NO missile threat to Hawaii.

— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018

Approximately 38 minutes after the initial alert was sent out, an additional alert was issued stating, "There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm." 

38 minutes after: pic.twitter.com/lt9MvXdZvH

— David Santoro (@DavidSantoro1) January 13, 2018

The Federal Communications Commission did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The website for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency was also offline Saturday, possibly due to an influx of traffic. 

According to Buzzfeed News reporter Amber Jamieson‏, a representative for the HEMA said the alert was pushed as part "of a drill that was going on." Even though the message clearly states, "THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Man at Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency told me: "We're in a process of sending another message to cancel the initial message. It was part of a drill that was going on." https://t.co/2eQ30UQY9e

— Amber Jamieson (@ambiej) January 13, 2018

In addition to mobile devices, the alert also interrupted local TV.

TV with the alert pic.twitter.com/VCZAtvyuzQ

— Michelle Broder Van Dyke (@michellebvd) January 13, 2018

NBC News reports the alert was based on "human error, according to Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz.

Hawaii Sen. Schatz: "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."

— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 13, 2018

With tensions between the United States and North Korea at an all time high, the alert sent panic throughout the region and continental United States. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have both threatened each other with the possibility of nuclear attack in recent months, as North Korea continues to test its nuclear capabilities, despite condemnations from the rest of the world.

In November, Hawaii began retesting its Cold War-era siren due to a possible threat from North Korea. It's unclear if those sirens were tested in the false alarm on Saturday, but it appears as if the alarm was only issued using the wireless emergency alert (WEA) system, which was established in April 2012.

It was all too real for people in Hawaii. According to New York Times media reporter Sydney Ember‏, people were sheltering in basements, some crying and holding each other.

Ember's and other tweets showed the pure panic that ensued after receiving the alert. 

People were sheltering in the basement. People were crying and holding each other. It was actually scary for a few minutes.

— Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) January 13, 2018

We are hanging out in a hotel basement. No one has any info beyond the emergency alert—which seems to have been statewide. I’m on Kauai.

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 13, 2018

Bruh I am in Hawaii with my family and this shit was scary as hell. People praying and kids crying.

— Ben Manoogian (@BENezuela12) January 13, 2018

Not funny. We live in Hawaii and my wife was crying while holding our baby. Imagine how I felt seeing that.

— Hoang Tran (@htran70) January 13, 2018

What a way to wake up to on a Saturday morning....was scared for a long time, my mom called crying & my dad called swearing & in a panic...thank you to @HawaiiNewsNow for getting us word within minutes as fast as they can. #hawaii pic.twitter.com/TnTMzlZQfy

— S-GEE 🦁 (@sweetest_snyra) January 13, 2018

While some called for a revamp of the alert system, Jon B. Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group noted that the false alarm not only panicked the entire nation, but was incredibly dangerous, and easily could have sparked an accidental war. 

The larger lesson is this is how accidental wars start - someone thinks they see something and reacts. What if this was a hacker triggering more than 1 system? What if a helo went down by accident at same time? This is why playing chicken with North Korea is not good policy.

— Jon B. (((Wolfsthal))) (@JBWolfsthal) January 13, 2018

and it is why we need to have a direct military to military channel to be able to talk directly to North Korean high military command. If and when something happens that looks wrong, we need to be able to turn it all off or we will have a war neither side wants or can afford.

— Jon B. (((Wolfsthal))) (@JBWolfsthal) January 13, 2018

So, in sum, if something looks and sounds out of place, it likely is. Just ask @SecDef19 and how he helped prevent a war. it is also why we need to de-escalate with the North. We don't control much and things can get sideways quickly.

— Jon B. (((Wolfsthal))) (@JBWolfsthal) January 13, 2018

White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters issued the following statement on the incident:

"The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii's emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise."

UPDATE: Jan. 13, 2018, 12:23 p.m. PST

WATCH: Transform your tub into an emergency water storage

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Panic Ensues After False Alarm Warns Of Incoming Ballistic Missile Threat To Hawaii

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Panic Ensues After False Alarm Warns Of Incoming Ballistic Missile Threat To Hawaii