An alert about an incoming ballistic missile sent Hawaii into panic for about 30 minutes on Saturday, until emergency officials announced that the message had been sent in error.
The alert, which was sent to cellphones, said there was a threat “inbound to Hawaii” and said residents should seek shelter. “This is not a drill,” it added.
In western Oahu, people ran out of buildings into the streets. According to a witness, some took shelter in the basement of a parking structure, where people cried and children huddled on rolls of fabric.
Approximately 30 minutes later, authorities said the alert was a mistake.
Hawaii governor David Ige told CNN the false alarm was caused by human error. “It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” he said.
The US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that the alert was an error, writing: “HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE.”
A White House statement said Donald Trump had been “briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise”.