38 minutes of missile terror
THE US state of Hawaii was sent into panic when residents were sent false messages about an incoming ballistic missile.
The text message, issued by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, caused chaos and led to terrified residents running for safety.
The alert, in capital letters, read: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
Authorities took 38 minutes to correct the mistake, which the governor attributed to a “worker pushing the wrong button”. “It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button,” Governor David Ige said. Australian tourists in Hawaii said receiving the ballistic missile emergency alert was “terrifying”.
Adelaide woman Joanna Kappos said she was ushered into the foyer of her hotel after receiving the emergency alert.
Adults and children were crying as they were taken from there to the basement before they were informed by staff that it was a mistake.
Ms Kappos wrote on The Advertiser’s Facebook page that she was in shock from the drama and she feels “for beautiful Hawaii people who face this threat every day”.
Angela Ceberano, a Melbourne-based public relations executive, said she was sitting on her Waikiki balcony when she received a “bizarre” emergency text message. “The emergency text message was very strange, I was absolutely petrified,” she said.
Ms Ceberano said there was no media coverage to find out what was going on. “Panic set in when the hotel blasted a message over the speaker system saying Hawaii was under threat and we needed to stay in our room,” she said.
“We were left in the dark for 40 minutes, there was absolute panic. It was pretty terrifying. I was absolutely confused and couldn’t comprehend what was happening.”
Fox FM personality Byron Cooke, also on holiday in Waikiki, said it was a “really crazy morning.” “It was crazy, not something you’d expect to see,” he said. “I thought my girlfriend was playing a joke on me. There was a lot of con- fusion, there were some elements of panic. A lot of people were taking it seriously, hugging each other. There was genuine panic.”
Residents scrambled to seek shelter, with some hiding in their garages and bathtubs.
One Twitter user said: “My family was hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken.”
Democratic Senator Matt LoPresti said: “I was sitting in the bathtub with my children, saying our prayers.”
Celebrities took to Twitter, pointing the finger at US President Donald Trump. Comedian Jim Carrey described the alert as “a psychic warning” and said the US was headed for “suffering beyond all imagin- ation” if Mr Trump remained in power. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said the alert was a false alarm and the agency was trying to determine what happened. PAGE 14: EDITORIAL