Rabat - Saturday morning, Hawaiian citizens received a phone alert warning them of the imminent arrival of a ballistic missile, sparking panic among the population. The threat was quickly denied by the authorities of the archipelago, saying that “someone pressed the wrong button.”
Rabat – Saturday morning, Hawaiian citizens received a phone alert warning them of the imminent arrival of a ballistic missile, sparking panic among the population. The threat was quickly denied by the authorities of the archipelago, saying that “someone pressed the wrong button.”
Shortly after 8:00 am local time (18:00 GMT), several people, including Democratic House Speaker Tulsi Gabbard, announced on social networks receiving an alert on their phone, via the Amber Alert system of the US Department of Justice.
“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii, seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill,” read the message in capital letters.
The fact that this impromptu notifications comes in a very tense geopolitical context marked by threats of nuclear attack by the North Korean regime against US soil, did not help the matter.
Within minutes from receiving the alert, Hawaii Governor David Ige and the local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) each ensured that the US state in the Pacific Ocean was not threatened by any ballistic missile.
The spokesman of the US military command center for the Pacific zone also said that the center had “detected no ballistic missile threat on Hawaii.”
During a briefing, Governor David Ige said that the incident occurred during the relief of an EMA team. As the employees moved in and followed the usual procedure to check that the system was operational “someone pressed the wrong button.”
“There is nothing more important than to professionalize and put safeguards to th Amber Alerts system,” he added.
Used regularly in the United States for kidnapping alerts, the Amber system is often criticized for its unreliability.
“The public must have confidence in our emergency alert system,” the Hawaii governor said in a statement, saying it would “prevent this from happening again.”
Witnesses said that the alert messages had also appeared on the television sets and broadcasts on the radio.
Hawaii News Now broadcasted images of what it portrayed as students at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, a neighborhood of Honolulu, running for shelter.
A Nashville weather presenter, Jim Jaggers, tweeted a picture of his family having taken refuge in a closet after the alert.
Hawaii EMA chief Vern Miyagi apologized, as did the governor, at a press conference and took responsibility for the incident.
He declined to say whether the officer guilty of sending the false alarm was going to be punished. “This gentleman feels bad,” he said. “He did not do that intentionally.”
The governor announced that the activation of the system would now require the presence of two people, instead of only one person as before the fiasco.