In the early morning of Saturday, January 13th, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency activated a warning system. The system was sent to all the residents of the state. This alert read:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
This message was sent to all cell phones. At 8:07 am Hawaii got word that North Korea had just launched a nuclear missile at Hawaii. The Hawaii Nuke sirens were activated, the first time since the 1980s. The state was panicking, many citizens had already left for work, families have spread apart, schools went on lockdown!
A quote from The New York Times reads, “The initial texts cited J-Alert, a system used by the government to issue warnings to its citizens about missiles, tsunamis and other natural disasters.”
Konawaena High School was in the middle of a wrestling championship when the alert was sent. They took it as a tsunami alert and hid every student and teacher in the middle of the gym. Several citizens called home and left final “I love you” calls to families. No plans were set in action, multiple highways were packed full of people trying to get home. However, this alarm was a mistake. At 8:45 am, 38 minutes later, officials sent out another message stating that the alert sent was a false alarm. It took almost 40 minutes for Hawaii officials to get word from the U.S Military that there was no threat. Apparently, the mistake was made during a normal drill that the Emergency Management Agency takes three times a day. One member had pushed the wrong button which sent out the alarm to the citizens.
Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said, “This mistake was totally inexcusable.”
“I’m not even really mad at the guy who pressed the button, I think it’s great because this is going to spur discussion.” Says Michael Kitchens, who just happens to be a U.S veteran. Michael is also the leader of “Stolen Stuff Hawaii”. Stolen Stuff Hawaii is the largest anti-theft and crime group in this state. This incident has been sweeping the country ever since it happened and it has brought more awareness.
A couple days after the Hawaii Incident, the same thing happened in Japan. On Tuesday, January 16th, Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, sent out the same alarm to its citizens. This wasn’t the first time Japan made the mistake. The same mistake was made on August 27th, 2017. Japan was alerted of a nuclear threat from North Korea and even activated their alarms. Luckily this time it only took 5 minutes for NHK to correct their mistakes.
“We’re terribly sorry!” states the CEO of Japan’s Public Broadcaster.
USA Today says, “The two false alarms are a reminder of the fears of conflict with North Korea after a year of escalating tension over its missile and nuclear weapons programs.” This quote is a reminder of how much of a threat North Korea is even after their one year of dormancy, especially after the aggressive tweeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un. Both of these incidents have made all enemies of North Korea more aware and alert. Guards have been put up for defense. What has North Korea really been up to? What would happen if it wasn’t a false alarm?