Update 2: More details are coming out surrounding just how this terrifying false alert impacted Hawaii’s citizens.
NBC News reports that the ballistic missile threat left people “crying and screaming” in Hawaii on Saturday, the state’s officials said the message was sent in error.
California resident Elizabeth Fong is in Hawaii looking to buy a house and received the alert. She said she didn’t receive a correction alert, stating it was a false alarm, until 8:46 a.m.
The aftermath of the false alert was “crazy,” she told NBC Bay Area, and prompted people to run around on the streets “crying and screaming,” wondering what to do.
“I prayed to God and asked for forgiveness of my sins and for Him to protect us,” she said, adding that people are still shaken up.
Andy Thammavongsa, who tweeted a screenshot of his phone that showed the time between each alert, lives in Ewa Beach and told NBC in a Twitter message, “Everyone was panicking, the whole island was awake and alert.”
He added that “there’s nothing really you can do honestly” if the alert were real, saying there’s “nowhere to take shelter, the island is only so big.”
As we detailed below, many people in Hawaii took to social media during and after the alert.
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Update 1: Gov. David Ige and head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management agency, Vern Miyagi, told Hawaii News Now that the false alert was the result of human error – and boiled down to someone pushing the wrong button.
Oddly, while the local officials proclaimed it an error, The White House described a false inbound missile alert received by Hawaii residents on Saturday morning as an “emergency management exercise,” offering no further explanation for the erroneous warning.
“The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“This was a state exercise,” she added.
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Shortly after 8am local time Saturday, Hawaii’s emergency alert system sent out a shocking tweet to its citizens: “Ballistic Missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek Immediate shelter, This is not a drill.”
The emergency alert was sent to all cellphones…
And interrupted Hawaiian TV..