Just after 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 13, some people in Hawaii took to social media after receiving an emergency message on their cell phones about a ballistic missile headed for the island chain. The message (seen above) advised citizens to seek shelter immediately and that the message itself was “not a drill.” This warning was not taken lightly, especially because it holds some serious significance in the state: On December 7, 1941, the dispatch to Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor read, “Air raid on Pearl Harbor x This is not a drill.”
Shortly after the message was sent out, however, several officials took to social media to confirm that this was indeed a drill and that no one was in danger.
About 40 minutes after the initial message was sent, emergency services sent out the following message, confirming that Hawaii isn’t in danger.
The “false alarm” was sent out in error while the system was running a test. Officials have said that this happened due to “human error.” Given the threats that the United States has received from North Korea in recent months, there is a heightened sense of alert.Elise Labott told CNN that the state of Hawaii may have been getting messages like this ready in the event that they needed to warn people of an attack.
“There is no missile threat. We’re trying to figure out where this came from or how this started. There is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now,” NORAD spokesman Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki told Buzzfeed’s David Mack.
A ballistic missile is defined as “a missile guided in the ascent of a high-arch trajectory and freely falling in the descent.”
Several people in Hawaii have spoken to the media about the “pure chaos” that ensued after the message was sent out. People were in a state of complete panic, running from beaches and across streets, trying to figure out where to go and what to do.
“The people of Hawaii just got a taste of the stark reality of what we face here with a potential nuclear strike on Hawaii. Every single cell phone in Hawaii just got this text message saying that a ballistic missile is incoming, take shelter, this is not a drill. So, you can only imagine what kicked in. People start questioning … over a million people in my state … are being faced with the reality that they’ve got 15 minutes to find a place to take shelter. Where’s the shelter? Where do they find shelter to protect them and their families from a nuclear attack?” Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) told CNN.
As for why this happened or who is responsible, that is unclear at this time.
“The officials I’ve spoken to say that it was an inadvertent message that was sent out. Essentially, it was a mistake. And we’ll get to the bottom of that,” Gabbard added.
There is some chatter that the system might have been hacked, which is also being looked into at this time. There are also several conflicting reports about what happened on the ground in Hawaii. Some people have said that they heard emergency sirens while others say that the sirens never went off. Some people said that the message only went to iOS users, but Android users have also posted screenshots of the message.
This story is developing.