A false ballistic missile threat alert was sent to all cell phones in Hawaii on Saturday morning, sending the state’s 1.4 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors into a panic for more than 30 minutes until emergency officials confirmed the message was sent in error.
The alert which was on local TV and sent to cell phones said:
“Emergency alert: BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The PGA Tour is in Hawaii this week for the Sony Open and players, caddies, officials, and families with the tour were caught in the panic associated with the false alert.
Frank Nobilo, an analyst with the Golf Channel said of the alert, “It was real and was something I’ve never experienced before. For all of us with the Golf Channel, and our families it was real.”
Several players posted messages on Twitter after receiving the alert.
Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in laws. Please lord let this bomb threat not be real.
— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 13, 2018
In a basement under hotel. Barely any service. Can you send confirmed message over radio or tv https://t.co/qHLeQSecnd
— JJ Spaun (@JJSpaun) January 13, 2018
To all that just received the warning along with me this morning… apparently it was a “mistake” 🤔 hell of a mistake!! Haha glad to know we’ll all be safe https://t.co/sYmuVzymaQ
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 13, 2018
That just happened pic.twitter.com/yiPyPpQPQ4
— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) January 13, 2018
“I know firsthand that what happened today is totally unacceptable, and many in our community were deeply affect by this,” Gov. David Ige said, at a news conference at the Hawaii Emergency Management agency on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced. I, too, am very angry and disappointed that this happened.”
I am meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
While city and military officials took to social media within 15 minutes to quell fears and say the message was sent in error, it took state emergency management — which sent out the message in the first place — 38 minutes to send out a “false alarm” alert to cell phones using the same mechanism that distributed the emergency warning in the first place.
The false alarm comes as Hawaii grapples with the real fear of a nuclear threat from North Korea.