Hawaiians demand answers after missile alert sparks 38 minutes of panic

Hawaiians demand answers after missile alert sparks 38 minutes of panicIt took just three minutes for officials on Hawaii to realise that the text alert warning residents of an incoming missile strike had been sent in error. There was no missile. Yet it took another 35 minutes for panicking families – holed up in garages, cowering under tables or frantically saying their goodbyes – to be sent a second message with the comforting news that annihilation was no longer imminent. A day later the island chain’s public officials say they have instituted a new system to reduce the risk of mistakes and to ensure errors can be more quickly corrected. But that still leaves a shaken population coming to terms with their 38 minutes of panic. “So this was the most terrifying few minutes of my LIFE!” Paul Wilson, a professor at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, wrote on on Twitter. “I just want to know why it took 38 minutes to announce it was a mistake?!?” The islands were just waking up on Saturday when they were bombarded with phone messages and warnings broadcast on TV and radio. “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” it read. Hawaii was already on edge. It recently began conducting tests of its emergency nuclear sirens, something not done since the end of the Cold War, and holding “Are You Ready” drills. The state is first in line if North Korea follows through with threats to use its growing nuclear arsenal on the United States. To make matters worse, a handful of sirens sounded on Saturday morning even though they were not part of the emergency network triggered by an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (Hema) during a routine test at 8:07am. Drivers abandoned cars on the highway north of Honolulu to huddle in a tunnel. Tourists thronged hotel lobbies unsure what to do. And families raced to their garages, the closest thing to a shelter on islands where basements are few and far between, or tucked children into storm drains. I woke up this morning in Hawaii with ten minutes to live. It was a false alarm, but a real psychic warning. If we allow this one-man Gomorrah and his corrupt Republican congress to continue alienating the world we are headed for suffering beyond all imagination. ;^\ pic.twitter.com/Kwca91IIy2— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) January 13, 2018 Those away from loved ones later spoke of the agonising decisions they were forced to make. A Washington Post journalist published a message he received from a friend who had just dropped one child at the airport when he received the missile warning. “I chose to go home to the two little ones – I figured it was the largest grouping of my family knowing I likely wouldn’t make it home in time,” he said. Meanwhile officials were desperately trying to recall the message. At 8.13am Hema cancelled the warning, meaning it would not be rebroadcast to phones that had not yet received it. After another 10 minutes, officials posted on Twitter and Facebook that the alert was false, according to their timeline of events. Yet it took until 8.45am for Hema to send a new message to phones cancelling the original alert. It took 38 minutes for phone messages to be sent telling residents there was no threat Credit: Splash Vern Miyagi, the agency’s administrator, apologised and said officials had to wait for authorisation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency before issuing a retraction. He said an unnamed employee pushed a button sending the alert rather than the option for testing. When prompted by a safeguard asking whether they were sure they wanted to send it, the employee clicked the option for “yes”. “I can’t explain that. Like I said, it’s a human error that we’re going to fix,” said Mr Miyagi. David Ige, governor of Hawaii, promised a full investigation into what went wrong. “Today is a day most of us will never forget,” said David Ige, the state’s governor, during a news conference at Diamond Head Bunker, the emergency command post from where the mistaken alert was sent. · Hawaii's nuclear alert shows perils of instant communication Officials promised to build a “cancellation template” to make it easier to correct mistakes and instituted a new system to ensure two people must sign off on future alerts Scott Saiki, the speaker of Hawaii’s state legislature, said the system had failed miserably. “Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations,” he said in a statement.

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