This is only a test.
A frightening false alarm warning of a missile strike scared Hawaiians Saturday morning as cell phones across the state advised that the alert was “not a drill.”
“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter,” the terse 8 a.m. text read in all caps.
The message also blared across television sets in the state — where residents have been on edge in recent months amid growing tensions between the Trump administration and North Korea.
Social media erupted as a flurry of people shared the shocking communication.
“We are aware of the reports and are looking into it,” a Pentagon spokeswoman told the Daily News shortly after the notice was sent out.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sought to calm nerves soon after the accidental alarm.
“NO missile threat to Hawaii,” the agency tweeted.
But many were already rattled by the warning.
Patty Lee, a 30-year-old freelance writer from Brooklyn, was enjoying the last day of her honeymoon with her husband, Calvin Lam, when the scare occurred.
The young couple, hoping to spend their time in paradise “disconnecting and not reading the news,” were en route to Leonard’s Bakery, in Waikiki, when they received the alert.
“We just weren’t sure what to do,” Lee told The News. “We tried to Google shelters and find somewhere to go, but there wasn’t any information or plan.”
For more than ten minutes, people who got the alert went into panic mode until they got another Civil Defense message that stated the message was a false alarm.
(Tim Wright/Splash News)
The pair got the all clear through social media.
“There was a sense of disbelief, everybody was walking around shaking their heads,” Lee said.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said authorities were trying to determine what happened.
Others on the island said the current political climate accentuated the fear.
“False alarm. But for all the other misfires and rogue sirens here, what does it say that we live in a time where we have to assume it’s possible? Still shaking,” tweeted journalist Ryan Ozawa.
Last month Hawaii tested nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
Pyongyang said that it has recently tested a ballistic missile capable of reaching the American mainland. It has also threatened to bomb the waters near Guam, a U.S. territory.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump have engaged in an escalating war of words that included a combative comparison of their “nuclear buttons” recently.
“The nuclear button is always on the desk of my office,” Kim said in a New Year’s speech. “They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality.”
Trump responded via Twitter, saying, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”