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FEMA: Hawaii didn't need approval to retract missile alert

19 January, 2018, 01:56 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • David Ige

Hawaii's false alarm ballistic missile threat sent thousands of people into panic this past weekend, so other states are making sure their systems are safeguarded from a potential error.

Five minutes later, NHK sent another notification: "The news alert about a North Korean missile sent earlier was a mistake".

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also posted to Twitter soon after the initial alert, reassuring citizens that she has confirmed with officials that "there is no incoming missile" and told CNN's Jake Tapper the alert was "inadvertent".

On Saturday Jan. 13, the entire state of Hawaii filled with panic as residents and tourists of the area received a threatening alert of a ballistic missile inbound through an alert system.

"Seek immediate shelter", the erroneous message warned.

It was transmitted to mobile phones and broadcast on television and radio across the island shortly after 8am local time on Saturday. Officials took almost 40 minutes to notify the public about the false alarm, leading many to question what took so long to send out a correction.

A missile launched from North Korea would take about 20 minutes to hit Hawaii.

The computer system that allows the Hawaiian Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) to send emergency alerts asks employees to select the type of alert that they are sending from a drop-down menu.


However, it took almost 40 minutes for Hawaiian authorities to send a revised alert. The mistake was corrected within minutes.

It's not as if Saturday' false alarm occurred in a vacuum, since the USA military has already contemplated preventive strikes against a North Korean regime armed with ICBMs, capable of reaching Hawaii or the West Coast. The EMA has ceased running emergency drills at all for the near future, and they will require two people present to run if and when they are reinstated.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Monday appointed state Army National Guard Brig.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican, said in a Tuesday interview that he wanted to know if additional checks and balances were needed for alerts of worldwide significance.

"Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations", he said in a statement.

Every emergency management agency in America should pay close attention to Hawaii's regrettable misadventure, and learn from its failings.

He says the state must also ensure everyone gets accurate information.

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