Hawaii Senators Call for Accountability After False Missile Threat

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There is no missile threat. It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawai‘i than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.


— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz)
January 13, 2018

In addition, Sen. Mazie Hirono, also in her first term, called for accuracy:


The alert — in all capital letters — moved on social media at 8:07 a.m. local time and was sent to cellphones.


“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” the alert said. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”


Thirty-eight minutes later, U.S. officials sent out another message saying that the text was a false alarm.


Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said the agency was trying to determine what happened.


Schatz later told Ana Cabrera on CNN that the emergency agency “blew it here.


“It is totally unacceptable,” he said. “The anxiety that we went through was real and terrifying across the state of Hawaii.”


The false alarm came amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, with dictator Kim Jong Un increasing testing of ICBMs of various range.


North Korea spent last year threatening the United States with a nuclear attack and running tests with missiles that seemed ready to strike Hawaii or anywhere on the U.S. mainland.


Hawaii, about 4,600 miles away from North Korea, would be one of the easiest targets for a long-range missile, though Pyongyang has not issued a specific threat against the state.


In August, Kim said he was ready to bomb Guam, a U.S. territory island in the Pacific that, like Hawaii, is home to a large U.S. military contingent.


President Donald Trump responded by warning that “there’s going to be big, big trouble in North Korea” if the country fired on Guam and promised that the U.S. Pacific territory “will be very safe” in any attack.


The false alert caused virtual panic on the island and across social media.


Jamie Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was cancelling their appointments and was closing his shop for the day.


He told The Associated Press that he was still in bed when the phone started going off “like crazy.”


He thought it was a tsunami warning at first.


“I woke up and saw missile warning and thought no way,” Malapit said. “I thought, ‘No, this is not happening today.'”