The state of Hawaii was jolted Saturday morning by a warning of an imminent incoming missile attack, which was sent to cell phones, and local television and radio stations, as it took almost 40 minutes for officials to confirm that it was a false alarm.
“What happened today was totally inexcusable,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) “The whole state was terrified.”
On television stations in Hawaii, the warning said the “U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat,” and people were urged to take immediate shelter.
Governor David Ige of Hawaii told reporters that it was a mistake during a shift change for state emergency management workers who are in charge of such alerts.
As officials scrambled for answers, they also quickly tried to calm the nerves of residents and tourists.
“U.S. Pacific Command has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error,” the military command reported on Twitter. “State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon possible.”
“It was a false alarm based on a human error,” Sen. Schatz tweeted.
At the time of the alert, President Donald Trump was at one of his golf courses in Florida; he returned to his Mar-a-Lago retreat soon after it occurred.
White House officials said it was a problem in Hawaii, not from inside the U.S. military.
“The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters. “This was purely a state exercise.”