Saturday 19 January 2019

Mobile phone alert warning of incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii sent in error


Audrey McAvoy and Jennifer Kelleher

Emergency management officials say a push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii on Saturday was a mistake.

The emergency alert sent to mobile phones said in all caps: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said it was a false alarm.

He says the agency is trying to determine what happened.

The alert stirred panic for residents on the island and across social media.

Jamie Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was cancelling their appointments and was closing his shop for the day.

He said he was still in bed when the phone started going off "like crazy". He thought it was a tsunami warning at first.

"I woke up and saw missile warning and thought 'no way'. I thought 'No, this is not happening today'," Mr Malapit said.

He was still "a little freaked out" and feeling paranoid even after hearing it was a false alarm.

"I went from panic to semi-panic and 'Are we sure?'" he said.

The White House said President Donald Trump, who is in Florida, was briefed on the false alert. Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said it "was purely a state exercise".

Press Association

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