HONOLULU – A message warning Hawaii residents to seek shelter due to the imminent threat of a ballistic missile on Saturday morning was a false alarm, officials said.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” read the alert to people’s phones, which immediately caused a panic among residents and on social media.
The message also blared across local television stations.
However, a spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command told BuzzFeed News the incident was a false alarm.
“There is no missile threat,” Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki told BuzzFeed News. “We’re trying to figure out where this came from or how this started. There is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now.”
“My phone’s been blowing up,” he added.
Nawrocki referred requests for information to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, where a representative also told BuzzFeed News the message was a false alarm.
“We’re in a process of sending another message to cancel the initial message. It was part of a drill that was going on,” the spokesperson said.
The agency later tweeted, “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”
Hawaii has been on edge in recent months amid an escalating war of words between the US and North Korea.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also told residents the message was a false alarm.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke reported from Honolulu. David Mack reported from New York City. Additional reporting by Amber Jamieson, Julia Reinstein, and Hayes Brown.This is a developing story. Check back for updates or follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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