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BALLISTIC MISSILE FALSE ALARM IN HAWAII

UPDATED (10 a.m. on 1/14/2018)

Statement of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on false emergency alert in Hawaii

WASHINGTON, January 14, 2018 — Yesterday, a false alert of an imminent missile attack was broadcast to the homes and cellphones of the residents of Hawaii using the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts. These public/private partnerships allow federal, state, and local officials (in this case, Hawaii state authorities) to send alerts regarding public safety emergencies. Chairman Pai issued the following statement:

“The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable. It caused a wave of panic across the state—worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued. Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies.

“The FCC’s investigation into this incident is well underway. We have been in close contact with federal and state officials, gathering the facts about how this false alert was issued. Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert.

“Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again. Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what’s necessary to fix them. We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out.”

UPDATED (3 p.m. on 1/13/2018)

Governor David Ige’s statement after meetings and debriefings with leaders at the Department of Defense and Hawai‘i Emergency Management:

Today is a day most of us will never forget. A terrifying day when our worst nightmares appeared to become a reality. A day where we frantically grabbed what we could, tried to figure out how and where to shelter and protect ourselves and our ohana, said our “I love yous,” and prayed for peace.

I know firsthand how today’s false notification affected all of us here in Hawaii, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion it caused. I, too, am extremely upset about this and am doing everything I can to immediately improve our emergency management systems, procedures and staffing.

I have spent the morning with Gen. Logan, Hi-EMA Administrator Vern Miayagi and their teams and have directed that they make immediate changes. We are doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again.

I encourage all of us to take stock, determine what we all can do better to be prepared in the future – as a state, county and in our own households. We must also do what we can to demand peace and a de-escalation with North Korea, so that warnings and sirens can become a thing of the past.

Governor David Ige

UPDATED (1:38 p.m. on 1/13/2018)

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) has confirmed that there was no ballistic missile and that there were no computer hacks to the HI-EMA system. The cause of the false alarm was human error. The following is a synopsis of what occurred:

HI-EMA has already taken measures to ensure that an incident such as the one that occurred this morning does not happen again. HI-EMA has also started a review of cancellation procedures to inform the public immediately if a cancellation is warranted. We understand that false alarms such as this can erode public confidence in our emergency notification systems. We understand the serious nature of the warning alert systems and the need to get this right 100% of the time.

“I know first-hand how today’s false alarm affected all of us here in Hawaii, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion it caused. I, too, am extremely upset about this and am doing everything I can do to immediately improve our emergency management systems, procedures and staffing,” said Gov. David Ige.

The following is a synopsis of what occurred:

  • Approx. 8:05 a.m. – A routine internal test during a shift change was initiated. This was a test that involved the Emergency Alert System, the Wireless Emergency Alert, but no warning sirens.
  • 8:07 a.m. – A warning test was triggered statewide by the State Warning Point, HI-EMA.
  • 8:10 a.m. – State Adjutant Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, validated with the U.S. Pacific Command that there was no missile launch.
    Honolulu Police Department notified of the false alarm by HI-EMA.
  • 8:13 a.m. – State Warning Point issues a cancellation of the Civil Danger Warning Message. This would have prevented the initial alert from being rebroadcast to phones that may not have received it yet. For instance, if a phone was not on at 8:07 a.m., if someone was out of range and has since came into cell coverage (Hikers, Mariners, etc.) and/or people getting off a plane.
  • 8:20 a.m. – HI-EMA issues public notification of cancellation via their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • 8:24 a.m. – Governor Ige retweets HI-EMA’s cancellation notice.
  • 8:30 a.m. – Governor posts cancellation notification to his Facebook page.
  • 8:45 a.m. – After getting authorization from FEMA Integral Public Alert and Warning System, HI-EMA issued a “Civil Emergency Message” remotely.

The following action was executed by the Emergency Alert System (EAS):
1. EAS message over Local TV/Radio Audio Broadcast & Television Crawler Banner.
“False Alarm. There is no missile threat to Hawaii.”

“False Alarm. There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. False Alarm.”

2. Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)
“False Alarm. There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii.”

  • 9:30 a.m. – Governor makes initial media notification.
  • 9:34 a.m. – Governor’s message posted to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

These are the actions that HI-EMA has already taken.
1. On the recommendations of the HI-EMA Administrator, Vern Miyagi, the Governor has suspended all future drills until HI-EMA has completed a full analysis of the event.
2. HI-EMA has already instituted a two-person activation/verification rule for tests as well as actual missile launch notifications.
3. A cancellation command that can be done automatically that can be triggered within seconds of an error, has been put in place.

This is the process that HI-EMA is currently reviewing:
1. Expanding notification processes for Hawaii’s Congressional Delegations, County Mayors, and key staff.

A formal preliminary report of findings and corrective actions will be issued next week.

UPDATED (10:44 a.m. on 1/13/2018)

Statement by Senate Majority Leader English on false ballistic threat alarm

The following is a statement by Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7- Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Senate Majority Leader, on today’s false ballistic threat alarm:

“The events surrounding this morning’s false alarm regarding a “ballistic missile threat to Hawaiʻi” is both unfortunate and very unacceptable. The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (Civil Defense) and the United States Pacific Command Center have confirmed that there is no threat to our islands.

I am outraged that a mistake of this magnitude occurred. The initial alert was sent out via Civil Defense at 8:15 a.m. HST and it took the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency over 38 minutes to clarify that the “alarm” was inadvertent and indeed a mistake. The panic and pandemonium that many in Hawaiʻi experienced was unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

I will be working with my colleagues in the Legislature to investigate into this matter and to provide the proper oversight to ensure that our state emergency alert system is properly functioning. We need to ensure that this never happens again and I am committed to doing so.”

UPDATED (9:46 a.m. on 1/13/2018)

Statement by House Speaker Saiki following false report of missile attack

House of Representatives Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement after the false missile strike alarm.

“This system we have been told to rely upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences. Measures must be taken to avoid further incidents that caused wholesale alarm and chaos today.

“Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes.
“The Hawaii House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happened and there will be consequences. This cannot happen again.”

UPDATED (9:29 a.m. on 1/13/2018)

Statement by Governor David Ige

Governor David Ige is meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.

“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” said Gov. Ige.

UPDATED (8:36 a.m. on 1/13/2018)

HAWAII COUNTY CIVIL DEFENSE: This is a Civil Defense Message. Please disregard message of nuclear attack. There is NO THREAT of Missile Launch at this time. I repeat, there is NO THREAT at this time.

UPDATED (8:24 AM on 1/13/2018)

THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO THREAT. THE ALERT WAS SENT OUT BY ACCIDENT.

8:08 a.m. Saturday, January 13, 2018 HST

BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

One Response to “BALLISTIC MISSILE FALSE ALARM IN HAWAII”

  1. Angel Olmstead says:

    Why did it take 33 minutes from the time they knew it was a false alarm until they sent out the messages to our phone to let us know that their first message was in error? That is what I want to know, you could contact Hawaii news now and find out half hour earlier!

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