NO INCOMING BALLISTIC MISSILE: FALSE ALARM
VIDEO: Damon Tucker interviews Mayor Harry Kim.
UPDATE: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, 11:13 a.m.
Maui County Emergency Management Agency Officer Herman Andaya told Big Island Now just before 11 a.m. today that the incident occurred during a shift change at the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency in Honolulu.
It is the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency that sounds these alerts, Andaya said.
There are three shift changes throughout day at HEMA, operating 24/7, he said.
“They have procedures in place,” Andaya said. “They go through a drill of what to do at every shift change.”
“It is our understanding that at the 8 a.m. shift change, someone ‘hit the wrong button’—erroneously sounding the alert,” he said.
“The false alarm is still under investigation by the State of Hawaii,” Andaya said. “Although it was a false alarm, we should take this opportunity to prepare ourselves for such emergencies. Our residents should remember that if this was an actual ballistic missile attack, the public is advised to get inside, stay inside and stay informed.”
The public should also be reminded that prior to an emergency, make a plan, create an emergency kit and stay informed (see “EMERGENCY KIT RECOMMENDATIONS” below).
A guidance summary of what to do in the event of an actual attack can be found online.
UPDATE: 10:43 a.m.
The following is a statement by Sen. J. Kalani English, Senate Majority Leader, on today’s false ballistic threat alarm:
“The events surrounding this morning’s false alarm regarding a “ballistic missile threat to Hawaiʻi” is both unfortunate and very unacceptable. The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (Civil Defense) and the United States Pacific Command Center have confirmed that there is no threat to our islands.
“I am outraged that a mistake of this magnitude occurred. The initial alert was sent out via Civil Defense at 8:15am HST and it took the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency over 38 minutes to clarify that the “alarm” was inadvertent and indeed a mistake. The panic and pandemonium that many in Hawaiʻi experienced was unwarranted and completely unnecessary.
“I will be working with my colleagues in the Legislature to investigate into this matter and to provide the proper oversight to ensure that our state emergency alert system is properly functioning. We need to ensure that this never happens again and I am committed to doing so.”
UPDATE: 9:28 a.m.
Gov. David Ige is meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.
“While I am thankful this morning’s alert 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,” said Gov. Ige.
House of Representatives Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement after the false missile alarm:
“This system we have been told to rely upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences. Measures must be taken to avoid further incidents that caused wholesale alarm and chaos today.
“Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes.
“The Hawai‘i House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happened and there be consequences. This cannot happen again.”
News sources have simply reported that “the wrong button was pushed.”
ORIGINAL POST: Saturday, Jan. 13, 8:10 a.m.
The alert sent out at 8:07 a.m. is an official false alarm, according to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.
According to a police officer interviewed by Big Island Now Reporter Damon Tucker in front of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense headquarters, the alarm was sent in error. It was supposed to be a scheduled test.
At 8:36 a.m., the COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I Civil Defense issued this information: “Please disregard message of nuclear attack. There is NO THREAT of Missile Launch at this time.”
The alert said, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawai‘i. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
A disaster alert was sent out at 8:07 a.m. About 30 minutes later, officials released information about the false alarm.
In the meantime, there was no additional information available on radio or TV, and none was provided to the media by official outlets.
No warning sirens were sounded throughout the state.