Hawaii Officials Mistakenly Warn of Inbound Missile

Officials say a push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii was a mistake. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

Hawaii emergency management officials say a push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii on Saturday was a mistake.

The emergency alert sent to cellphones said in all caps, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

The alert also broke through on television stations across Hawaii.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard was one of the first to confirm that there was not a real threat.


Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza says it's a false alarm.

He says the agency is trying to determine what happened.

It took almost 40 minutes for an official statement to come out about the alert.

The incident prompted defense agencies including the Pentagon and the U.S. Pacific Command to issue the same statement, that they had "detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii."

Michael Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command are still trying to verify what happened in Hawaii — but that "NORAD did not see anything that indicated any sort of threat to Hawaii."

NORAD is a U.S.-Canada joint command that conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning to defend North America.

The White House said President Donald Trump, who is in Florida, was briefed on the false alert. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said it "was purely a state exercise."

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on social media the panel would launch an investigation.

The alert stirred panic for residents on the island and across social media.

Emergency officials here in California say they're monitoring the situation in Hawaii.

Brad Alexander is a spokesman for the state office of Emergency Services.

He says, in California, similar alerts would have to be sent by a highly trained operator.

"There's a lot of agencies that can do notifications and they have a lot of training and special classes to do these types of alerts," he said.

Alexander says to his knowledge there has never been a statewide false alert of this kind in California.