US Panic in the Pacific: How those in Hawaii reacted to missile threat

02:16  14 january  2018
02:16  14 january  2018 Source:   NBC News

Ex-Obama defense official on Hawaii false alarm: 'Thank God the President was playing golf'

  Ex-Obama defense official on Hawaii false alarm: 'Thank God the President was playing golf' A former Defense Department official under former President Barack Obama reacted to the false alarm of a ballistic missile headed towards Hawaii on Saturday.Patrick Granfield, a former strategic communications director at the Pentagon, posted the tweet after Hawaii officials declared the emergency alert was a false alarm.

Related: 'Ballistic missile threat ' warning in Hawaii a false alarm. Panicked posts from residents on the islands flooded Twitter and worried relatives on the mainland, all Dworkin said despite Hawaii ’s recent drills intended to prepare residents for an attack, he did not feel like he knew how to react .

The initial message sparked a chain reaction that further escalated the panic – despite the Pentagon and US Pacific Command issuing a statement that they had “detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii .”

Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater, and high-rises are seen in Honolulu on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. A push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic was a mistake, state emergency officials said. © AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater, and high-rises are seen in Honolulu on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. A push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic was a mistake, state emergency officials said.

Ben DuPree spent the morning of his daughter's second birthday cowering with his family in a bathtub in Kailua, Hawaii, fearing an incoming missile strike from North Korea.

Like many others in Hawaii, Dupee said he panicked Saturday morning when he received an alert on his phone warning of an impending missile attack.

"I got the alert on [my wife's] phone at which point I yanked her out of the shower and we went to huddle in the bathtub," said Dupee, a Portland, Oregon, resident who was visiting family in Oahu.

Hawaii officials say 'false alarm' on alert about inbound ballistic missile

  Hawaii officials say 'false alarm' on alert about inbound ballistic missile Hawaii officials on Saturday announced that an alert saying a missile was headed for the state was a false alarm.Sen. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) issued a tweet, saying she had confirmed with officials the alert was false.

State officials and the U.S. military's Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. The mistaken alert, which triggered panic among many Hawaiians who scrambled to find shelter, stated: "EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII .

State officials and the U.S. military’s Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. The mistaken alert, which triggered panic among many Hawaiians who scrambled to find shelter, stated: “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII .

The family remained crouched in the tub for nearly 20 minutes, combing social media for updates. It wasn't until he saw a tweet from Hawaii's Emergency Management system that DuPree said he felt it was safe to leave the bathroom.

Similar scenes of panic and worry played out across Hawaii Saturday as many residents and visitors to the islands tried to determine if the missile threat was genuine. Officials later said the alert was mistakenly sent because of human error.

Related: 'Ballistic missile threat' warning in Hawaii a false alarm


Panicked posts from residents on the islands flooded Twitter and worried relatives on the mainland, all desperate to know if the alert was real.

"Not sure what to do. Sirens are going off," tweeted Canadian Olympic cyclist Emily Batty, who said she received the alert minutes into her morning bike ride.

Honolulu's 911 system overwhelmed with calls; body found at airport

  Honolulu's 911 system overwhelmed with calls; body found at airport Honolulu’s 911 system was inundated with more than 5,000 telephone calls Saturday as Hawaii plummeted into a state of panic and confusion over a false ballistic missile scare. About half of those callers were unable to get through, but operators were planning to get back to them to ensure that no actual emergencies were happening, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.Mayor Kirk Caldwell said there were no reported injuries or accidents related to the panic and confusion that ensued, the paper reported.Within minutes of the alert, police were notified that it was indeed false.

HONOLULU — 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 caps, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii .

But Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has slammed US President Donald Trump over his North Korea failings following the Hawaii missile panic , accusing him What do I do? How do I protect my family? Where do I go?' "This is a threat that 's not only facing Hawaii , but this country," Gabbard said.

Jonathan Dworkin, an infectious disease doctor who lives in Honolulu, tweeted that he and his family were taking shelter in his basement.

Later, in a message on Twitter, Dworkin told NBC News he was initially confused by the alerts because he only received the warning on one of his phones. Although his neighborhood was calm and he couldn't hear any sirens, Dworkin said he and his family decided to remain in their shelter, where his 9-year-old peppered him with questions and his 4-year-old remained calm.

Related: What should you do in case of nuclear attack? 'Don't run. Get inside'

"The first confirmed 'all clear' we saw was actually a Twitter message from Tulsi Gabbard," he said. "Then 26 minutes ago we got another phone alert [from the government] canceling."

Dworkin said despite Hawaii's recent drills intended to prepare residents for an attack, he did not feel like he knew how to react.

"I am not sure how much I can conclude about statewide preparedness from this," he said. "But as a dry run, not very reassuring."

DuPree said Saturday's incident underscored the need for a diplomatic political solution to the escalating tensions with North Korea.

"When the leader of North Korea, and when President Trump trade messages and tweets about the size of their nuclear buttons, that might feel very distant to them, but it's very real to people living in harms way," he said.

Here's how emergency alerts are supposed to happen .
The false alarm of a missile heading for Hawaii left Americans wondering how the missile detection and emergency messaging systems are supposed to work -- and what went wrong. The US military is in charge of detecting ballistic missile launches and maintains a complex and integrated network of sensors and detection capabilities in the Pacific to follow missile activity, a network that has been improved in recent years. Missile launches are detected immediately by satellites that notice the infrared signature on the launchpad. The detection triggers an instant Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, assessment process.

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