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From paradise to panic: Hawaii residents and vacationers run for cover, fearing missile attack

Residents and visitors in Hawaii have been recalling the shock of a false missile alarm, with many saying they thought they were going to die.

The alert of an incoming ballistic missile was sent wrongly on Saturday morning by an emergency system worker.

Victims of the ordeal spoke of hysteria and panicked evacuations.

The false alarm sparked recriminations, with state officials apologising and President Donald Trump’s response called into question.

How Hawaii reacted to false missile alert

Why was the alert sent?

It was a mistake by an employee at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) who “pushed the wrong button” during procedures that occur during the handover of a shift.

The message was reportedly sent despite an onscreen prompt requesting confirmation.

Mobile phone users received the message at 08:07 (18:07 GMT): “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

The alert was corrected by email 18 minutes later but there was no follow-up mobile text for 38 minutes, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

The alert system is in place because of the potential proximity of Hawaii to North Korean missiles.

So how did people react?

For some it was panic, a dash to a protective bathtub or hiding under manholes, contemplating what could be their last moments. For others, a resigned acceptance, thinking that staring at the beauty of Hawaii was not a bad way to go.

Hassan Deen, a student at Hawaii Pacific University, told the BBC the alert sparked a frenzy and he was locked for 47 minutes with 29 other students in a room with rubbish bins.

 

Emma Hine, who is visiting Hawaii from the UK, told the BBC: “It was one of the worst experiences because I actually thought we were going to die. I’ve got a daughter – Chloe – back home in the UK and I thought ‘I’m not going to get a chance to say goodbye’. Everyone was genuinely terrified.”

Her son, Lewis, a disability campaigner, suffered a seizure due to stress.

Marathon runner Lucja Leonard said she had heard of children being “pushed into drainpipes to get them protected”.

“We all just huddled together and just thought – well, you know – if this is going to be the end I guess we’re in a beautiful place, doing something we love but – God – it was pretty scary.”

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42680070

As always,

Dalton Metzler

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