UPDATED: False Incoming Ballistic Missile Alert Causes Panic In Hawaii
A Kingsville woman was right in the middle of what many thought was a nuclear attack on Hawaii Saturday.
Hawaiians had a bit of a scare around 8am when a text alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile was mistakenly sent out to residents.
Member of Congress from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard took to Twitter shortly after the message was sent out around 8am to debunk the alert — pointing out how serious the false alarm was — causing millions of people to believe they faced certain death for 15 minutes.
The people of Hawaiʻi experienced that in 15 minutes they and their families are going to be dead. Gone. That's what they just went through.— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018
Laura Santos grew up in Kingsville but moved to Waikiki in 2005. The 45 year old says she didn't panic — looking up the incident online to find out more about what was going on — but many people were, "freaking out."
"My house guest called her husband and was saying goodbye to him and stuff, she was kind of resigned to the fact that she was going to die," Santos says. "I'm sure a lot of people were really freaking out."
Her apartment overlooks the city and she says people were running around all over the place. The security guard at her building told her the phone lines were jammed immediately following the text.
"I did have one co-worker coming home from the hospital this morning, she was driving and she didn't know whether or not she should pull over and find some shelter, or keep looking up at the sky waiting for something to happen," Santos says. "When something like this is coming, where can you really hide?"
She tells AM800 News alarm drills happen regularly on the island — and those drills are accompanied by sirens -— a major reason why Santos didn't jump to conclusions.
"Typically they would set off a siren here, I'm on the Island [Honolulu] that everybody can hear that would tell you to take shelter immediately. It didn't go off, another reason I didn't believe it," she says. "I have a friend who lives in Aiea, which is 8-miles away from Pearl Harbor, and he says he heard the outside sirens for just a few seconds and then they went away."
Officials are still trying to determine how the message was mistakenly sent, according to statements by Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.