A false emergency alert shocked the people of Hawaii on Saturday morning, with push alerts waking some up at 8 a.m. informing them that a ballistic missile was bound for the islands.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII,” the message read. “SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
It turned out to be a stunning, inexcusable false alarm. Hawaiian authorities clarified the mistake, and assured everyone that there was no threat. But there’s no way to undo the terror and panic that the alert caused.
And it wasn’t confined to mobile phones. Hawaiian TV programs on major channels were interrupted by the warning. They included the Premier League game between Tottenham and Everton, which was being shown on NBC.
At the end of the first half, with players heading down the tunnel, the sound from the broadcast was interrupted by a shrill alarm-like sound, and then an automated message:
— Max Lewis (@MaxLewisReports) January 13, 2018
“The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii,” the voice said. “A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. This is not a drill.”
It followed with instructions to “seek immediate shelter in a building,” and other commands to “take immediate actions measures,” while scrolling text at the top of the screen alerted viewers of the danger.
Fortunately, it turned out to be a mistake. But for viewers enjoying Tottenham’s eventual 4-0 victory, it must have been horrifying.