A ballistic missile alarm sent as an emergency alert to cell phones rattled the state of Hawaii on Saturday, but officials are calling it a false alarm.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the message sent to cellphones on the island read.
Within minutes, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from the state, said officials confirmed to her that there was no missile threat in a tweet.
HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018
Hawaii Emergency Management also confirmed that the message was a false alarm and there is no threat to the island.
NO missile threat to Hawaii.— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018
"USPACOM has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error. State of Hawaii will send out a correction message as soon as possible," Navy Cmdr. David Benham of U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.
Residents on the islands reported receiving the false alarm as a push alert on their phones; however, they also told the Washington Examiner they did not hear the warning sirens which are suppose to sound when an attack is imminent.
The state of Hawaii sent out a corrective message nearly 40 minutes later.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, called for a explanation for what caused the false alarm so that the same mistake does not reoccur.
Today’s alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) January 13, 2018
Just last month Hawaii became the first state since the end of the Cold War to test nuclear sirens in preparation for a possible nuclear attack amid growing tensions with North Korea. Given their relatively close proximity to the Korean Peninsula, Hawaiians would have less than 20 minutes to seek shelter in the case of a real attack.
President Trump has focused a large part of his first year in office working to dismantle North Korea's growing nuclear program while also publicly mocking the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.
The White House put out a statement to say Trump, who is in Florida this weekend, has been briefed on the situation.
"The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii's emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise," said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.