What if a ballistic missile was headed towards Hampton Roads?

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un

"The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground".

In the end, it took almost 40 minutes after the first alert was sent for the state to send another mobile alert informing residents and tourists that there was no incoming missile. As Hawaii is the only state with an early warning system, it could take mainland states as long as 30 minutes to create and send an alert.

On Saturday, the agency mistakenly sent an alert to cellphones with a warning to seek immediate shelter because a ballistic missile was "inbound to Hawaii".

In the Hawaii incident at the weekend, a public servant who was supposed to perform a routine test of the state's missile warning system apparently selected the "send real alert" option instead.

It was transmitted to mobile phones and broadcast on television and radio across the island shortly after 8am local time on Saturday. Brian Schatz says the false alarm about a missile threat was based on "human error" and was "totally inexcusable".

A missile launched from North Korea would take about 20 minutes to hit Hawaii. Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency has said a worker clicked the wrong item in a drop-down menu and sent it, and that its system was not hacked. He checked into the matter and called right back to inform his parents it was a "mistake" and that someone let the message go out in error.

Since this alert gaffe, Hawaiian officials have already set up new procedures to prevent another false alarm, like requiring two people to approve any emergency alert before it's sent out.

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It appears North Korea launched a missile.

Nielsen told a Senate panel Tuesday the department had been unaware that Hawaii officials did not have a mechanism in place to address false alarms and retract them.

Last September, television viewers in California's Orange County were confronted with two freakish emergency alerts that included a female voice warning of an impending apocalypse.

"Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations", he said in a statement. Hawaii residents didn't receive a retraction until 38 minutes after the alert.

For their part, Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Miyagi, the emergency management administrator, apologized and vowed changes.

The broadcaster declined to say what the other news flash was about, but some domestic news outlets issued bulletins at around the same time about the latest recipients of a Japanese literary award.

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