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What Went Wrong? Emergency Alert System Under Review after Hawaii Missile Scare

01-15-2018
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WASHINGTON – Federal and local officials are reviewing the emergency alert system after a major scare for the people of Hawaii this weekend.

On Saturday morning, residents were alerted about an incoming ballistic missile. They were told, "This is not a drill," and many rushed to safety, waiting nearly 40 minutes for impact.

"The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii. A missile may come on land or sea within minutes," the alert warned.

The scare had people running for shelter, with some filing into bunkers and others hunkering down in basements fearing the worst.

"Because of what's going on in North Korea, and things, I tended to take it seriously at first," one resident said.

Although state officials realized it was a mistake within just a few moments, the error took 38 minutes to correct.

They're now reviewing the emergency alert system, and the worker who accidentally hit the wrong button has been reassigned.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump praised Hawaii officials for accepting responsibility for the fiasco.   

"We're going to get involved. They took responsibility. They made a mistake," he said.

This all comes amid growing tensions with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who has been threatening the U.S. with a nuclear attack.

"Kim Jong Un was the happiest guy in the world yesterday because his nuclear program has done what he wanted it to do and that is be able to strike fear in the hearts of the American people," combat veteran and former Defense Department official Steve Ganyard told ABC News.

The goal now for local and federal officials is to make sure this doesn't happen again.  

"The fact that it took so long for them to put out that second message, to calm people, to allay their fears that this was a mistake – a false alarm is something that has to be fixed," Rep. Tulsi Gabbaro, D-Hawaii, said.

The Federal Communications Commission is also now launching its own investigation, saying Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards in place.

"Emergency alerts are meant to keep us and our families safe, not to create false panic," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote on Twitter. "We must investigate and we must do better."

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