Residents of Hawaii received a chilling message on their smartphones Saturday morning – and people took it seriously.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the notification from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) read.
Similar messages interrupted TV shows and jarred vacationers awake at hotels, The Huffington Post reported. The alert took everybody, including the U.S. military’s Pacific Command, by surprise. Fortunately, it was caused by human error, and not by a North Korean missile.
At least one family hid a child in a storm drain because of the alert. Others called police asking what to do. But people, too, were panicking, even though air-raid sirens never went off.
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“I’m in Honolulu, Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken,” resident Sara Doncehy tweeted.
Corporal L. Miller of the Honolulu Police told The Huffington Post, “If the alert was real, the sirens would’ve went off at the same time.”
Alert Caused by Human Error
The alert was sent out by mistake because a state employee chose the wrong option on a drop-down computer menu, The Washington Post reported.
Disturbingly, no correction was sent to mobile phones for 38 minutes or longer after the false alarm went out.
Some residents hid in closets as they waited for the North Korean missile that never came, The Huffington Post reported.
“I went in and sat with my kids, hugged them tightly, closed my eyes and just hoped we would make it,” Desitnee Solis told The Huffington Post. “My husband waited outside the closet door. At one moment, I went out to hug him and basically say our goodbyes.”
“It was just complete panic, with neighbors running around looking for insight, looking for cover,” Chris Wall, a student at the University of Hawaii, told Huffington Post. “Babies crying. Just pandemonium.”
Said Laie resident Jessica Frick, “We realized we are definitely not prepared. But for a disaster of that type of magnitude, how prepared can you really be?”
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