Hawaii missile alert: False alarm sparks panic in USA state

This was the alert which was issued among residents in Hawaii on Saturday morning which caused panic. Civil Defense later told residents it was a mistake and that someone'pushed the wrong buttons during a drill

A false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii sent the islands into a panic Saturday, with people abandoning cars in a highway and preparing to flee their homes until officials said the cell phone alert was a mistake.

The FCC is working to better target alerts to impacted people and will vote this month on a proposal to "more precisely target these alerts to affected communities". Many are questioning if the emergency alert system needs more oversight, especially as tensions rise with North Korea.

Even though the state says almost 93 percent of the islands' 386 sirens worked properly during the December test, 12 mistakenly played an ambulance siren.

"I thought to myself, it must be someone's last day at work or someone got extremely upset at a superior and basically did this as a practical joke", he said.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on a false alert that Hawaii was under the threat of being hit by a ballistic missile.

"From the time they announced it to when they sent us another alert that said 'It's a false alarm.' Oh my gosh, it was bad".

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii was angry with the mistake.

The 8 a.m. alert woke many people from their sleep, including Alyssa Chaparro, a 22-year-old who lives on Oahu with her family.

Charles Howell III added: "All the alarms went off at the same time".

"But the locals were really panicking, and everyone was trying to evacuate to places underground".

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"There was no an automated way to send a false alarm cancellation". He said they were "absolutely terrified" and wanted to come home immediately. "My mom then yelled at my Dad for being an idiot for 10 minutes".

The false alert came amid high worldwide tensions over North Korea's development of ballistic nuclear weapons.

Gov. David Ige, himself awakened by the alert, told reporters the doomsday alert was caused by human error during a shift change at the emergency agency.

It took just under 40 minutes before messages were sent out declaring the alert a "False Alarm".

While the message caused concern on social media, the Hawaii Office of Emergency Management quickly responded on Twitter, saying, "NO missile threat to Hawaii". He and his family took shelter in a shower as their TV blared the alert over a local college basketball game. "We will be looking at how we can improve the procedures so it doesn't happen again".

"The governor has directed that we hold off any more tests until we get this squared away".

But Japanese like Shiomi - accustomed to years of quake warnings and, more recently, alerts about overflying North Korean missiles - have grown used to the ear-splitting alarms emitted by cellphones.

It was later made clear the message was false - it was accidentally sent out by the U.S. state's Civil Defence organisation. They didn't anticipate a false alert would happen. That jolt, however, never came. I didn't know what to do.

Japanese, Gong said, "are afraid" but "aren't panicked" - a kind of "it can not be helped" attitude.

"We kind of just sat there and waited, because we didn't know where to go anyways", she said.

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