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How folks reacted to the false missile threat
01:00 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A false alert about a ballistic missile threat went out January 13 in Hawaii

It took 15 minutes to relay news of false alert on social media

CNN  — 

When Hawaii pushed out a ballistic missile alert earlier this month, Gov. David Ige knew within two minutes it was a false alarm. But he couldn’t hop on Twitter and tell everybody – because he didn’t know his password.

“I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account login and passwords,” Ige told reporters Monday after giving his State of the State address. “I will be putting that on my phone.”

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency issued the alert – sent to cell phones and broadcast on the airwaves there – at 8:07 a.m. on January 13. A state official told Ige two minutes later it was false, CNN affiliate KHNL reports.

It took another 15 minutes before the state relayed that news on social media. And it took 38 minutes after the alert was sent for the emergency management agency to send out a second message telling the public it was a false alarm.

Under mounting criticism about the delays, Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that while he was unable to get into his Twitter account immediately to alert the public, he did during that time make calls to his leadership team at the emergency management agency.

“The focus really was on trying to get as many people informed about the fact that it was a false alert,” he told the newspaper.

Chaos roiled paradise

The false alert was blamed on a lone employee who “pushed the wrong button” during an end-of-shift procedure.

The governor promised that steps were being taken to ensure that such a false alarm never happens again.

Resident and tourists alike scrambled for safety the morning the alert was issued.

People huddled in hotel basements, crawled under tables, raced from beaches and took shelter in military hangars when the alert hit phones.

If North Korea were to launch a missile toward Hawaii, the 1.4 million residents of the islands would have only about 20 minutes’ notice before it hit. The emergency management agency had begun testing the state’s nuclear warning siren system. Residents have been told their best plan of action is to remain inside and shelter in place until it’s safe to leave.