Hawaii Missile Alert Error

Image of the alert From: nytimes.com

By: Delia Geyer/ Content Editor

On January 13th, 2017, about 1.4 million people were sent into a panic. The state of Hawaii was in complete chaos for thirty-eight minutes.

As tensions with North Korea continue to grow, Hawaiian citizens were and are already on “high emotional alert” according to the New York Times. Hawaii has been having monthly air-raid drills fully equipped with sirens since December when President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un began exchanging nuclear threats.

To make matters worse for the people in Hawaii, an alert went out at around 8:10 AM that read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” People were in a panicked state for about thirty-eight minutes after that, until the second announcement, when the military declared that there was no evidence of a missile launch.

This error was made by humans, not a machine. There was no hacking or foreign government involvement. It was simply a mistake made by a now former member of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. This mistake, however, was detrimental to many U.S. citizens for over half an hour, while many sat around thinking that they were going to die within minutes, saying what they believed to be their last goodbye to their loved ones.

In a time where much of the world is in chaos, and tensions are continually growing between the United States and North Korea, it becomes less and less difficult to relate to the panic and fear that was felt in Hawaii on the thirteenth. Many people fear (with reason) that a missile could be launched to the U.S. at any time.

Luckily, the alert was just a mistake and nothing more, but the fear that it evoked was real, and the possibility that something could happen is real. We will see how the course of nuclear tensions plays out, but for now, we hope that the people in Hawaii, and the rest of the United States won’t have to be in that immense state of panic again.