A push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic Saturday was a mistake, state emergency officials said.
The emergency alert, which was sent to cellphones, said in all-capital letters, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said it was not immediately known what caused the false alarm but that the agency was trying to determine what happened.
The alert set off panic among many residents, as well as across social media.
Jamie Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was canceling their appointments and 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,'” Malapit said.
He was still “a little freaked out” and feeling paranoid even after learning it was a false alarm.
“I went from panic to semi-panic and ‘Are we sure?'” he said.