Obtained by ABC News(HONOLULU) — People in Hawaii woke up to emergency alerts on their phones Saturday about an imminent ballistic missile attack, which they later learned was a false alarm.
The false emergency alert apparently happened because “the wrong button was pushed,” Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki said in a statement Saturday.
“This system we have been told to rely upon failed — and failed miserably — today,” Saiki said. “I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences.”
The state house speaker added, “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 emergency alert was sent to people’s mobile phones in Hawaii at about 8:08 a.m. local time with the startling words all in caps, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
Shortly after, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, Dave Benham, told ABC News in a statement that no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii was detected.
“Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible,” Benham said.
Correction messages were later sent out to mobile phones in Hawaii and were broadcast on television via a scrolling red banner that read in part, “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii.”
Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii wrote on Twitter that Saturday morning’s false alert was “based on human error.”
“What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process,” Schatz wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Diane Cluxton, who lives on the Big Island, said she was grocery shopping with her husband when she received the false alert Saturday morning.
“My husband got it at the same time, and then all of a sudden, you heard all these “What?” throughout the store, because everybody was receiving it all at the same time,” Cluxton told ABC News. “One person actually sought shelter in a doorway waiting for some other notification, so it definitely looked like everybody received the alert.”
Cluxton said some people in the store eventually received a second alert on their phone saying it was a false alarm.
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