38 min­utes of mis­sile ter­ror

The Advertiser - - NEWS - BRI­ANNA TRAVERS MON­DAY JAN­UARY 15 2018

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

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