Early in the morning on Saturday, Jan. 13, Hawaii residents panicked as they received an emergency alert about a ballistic missile headed toward the island. The alert thankfully turned out to be a false alarm, according to NBC News. In the middle of the chaos, many looked to Twitter for answers. Tweets about the Hawaii ballistic missile threat alert express fear and concern about the state's safety.
Elite Daily reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense but has not heard back by the time of publication.
According to NBC, residents of Hawaii received a shocking emergency alert on their phones and televisions, warning them of a ballistic missile threat inbound to the state. The alert advised people to "seek immediate shelter," and warned that it was "not a drill." However, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency later tweeted, "NO missile threat to Hawaii." Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, also tweeted, assuring residents that the alert was a false alarm.
In the time between the initial alert and the false alarm reports from state officials, people in Hawaii and other areas of the country expressed their confusion, fear, and desire for more information, mainly via Twitter. The alert was sent out around 8 a.m. local time on Saturday, when most residents were still sleeping or just starting their days.
Sarah Donchey, a reporter from Texas, is currently in Hawaii. She woke up to a number of notifications — including the initial alert — and panicked messages from loved ones.
Many residents followed the alert's instructions to "seek immediate shelter."
Cell phone footage shows residents hiding in storm drains and parking structures for safety.
People in other parts of the country expressed their sympathy for the residents of Hawaii.
It was clear from the footage of people's reactions and the confused tweets that the state was shaken up, and in need of some kind words.
Even though the alert was confirmed to be false, people are still looking for answers as to how something like this could have happened.
While they waited for an explanation from the state, some suggested that it could have been hackers, or perhaps a rogue employee.
Things didn't get much better when Hawaii's governor, David Ige, told CNN that the error occurred during a shift change, when an employee "pushed the wrong button."
Many noted the amount of time that it took Hawaiian officials to confirm that the threat was false.
Some residents claimed to have learned that the alert was false from Twitter before they heard any word from government officials.
Some wondered what would have happened if the threat had been real.
Many of them also considered the effect that this event could have on people if an actual nuclear attack were to occur. Would people take the threat seriously?
And of course, everything came back to President Trump.
The president was golfing when the alert was sent out, and has yet to comment on the matter at the time of publication.
Different sources have stated different causes for the false alarm. Although Gov. Ige stated that the alert was the result of human error, NBC reports that the White House is calling the alert "purely a state exercise." The city and county of Honolulu, as well as the U.S. Pacific Command, called the warning an "error" in their respective statements.
Gov. Ige tweeted that he was meeting with the Hawaii Department of Defense and Emergency Management department to figure out how "to prevent [this] from happening again." Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted that the FCC will launch a "full investigation." The White House has yet to release an official statement at the time of publication.