WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said on Saturday there was no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii after an official message was mistakenly sent to Hawaii residents’ mobile phones warning them of an imminent attack.
A spokesman for the command said it “detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii” and that the message warning had been sent in error.
The incident occurred amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of a ballistic nuclear weapon.
North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against the U.S. territory of Guam or U.S. states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang.
Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, when the event was unfolding. It was not yet known whether he has been briefed about it.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard said she checked with the state agency that issued the alert and was told it was sent in error.
She then tweeted, “HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE.”
Gabbard also tweeted the mistaken alert, which said: “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s Twitter account also said “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”
Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is home to the U.S. Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.
In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, state officials said at the time.
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, said on Twitter, “Todayâs alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.”
Reporting by Phil Stewart, Richard Cowan Steve Holland and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Bill Trott