HONOLULU — A push alert that warned of an ballistic missile bearing down on Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic Saturday (Jan. 13) was a mistake, state emergency officials said. The emergency alert to mobile phones said, BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
State Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said it was a false alarm. The agency was trying to determine what happened.
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The alert caused a tizzy on the island and across social media. Jamie Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted clients he was cancelling their appointments and was closing his shop for the day.
He said he was still in bed when the phone started going off “like crazy.” He first thought it was a tsunami warning.
“I woke up and saw missile warning and thought, ‘No way.’ I thought, ‘No, this is not happening today,'” Malapit said.
He was still “a little freaked out” and feeling paranoid, even after hearing it was a false alarm. “I went from panic to semi-panic and ‘Are we sure?'” he said.
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Story by Audrey McAvoy and Jennifer Kelleher.