Maui News


January 13, 2018, 8:30 AM HST
* Updated January 13, 1:24 PM
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The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency has confirmed the “ballistic missile attack” warning sent out this morning was A MISTAKE and that there is NO THREAT to Hawai‘i.

The message alert went out this morning at 8:05 a.m. Hawaiʻi time from the State Emergency Management Agency on Oʻahu and was disseminated statewide.

State officials later informed the Maui Emergency Management Agency that the warning was not real. A state investigation into what caused the false warning is underway.


Maui County Emergency Management Agency Officer Herman Andaya told Maui Now that the incident occurred during a shift change at the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency in Honolulu.


It is the State of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency that sounds these alerts, Andaya said.

There are three shift changes throughout day at HEMA, operating 24/7, he said.

They have procedures in place,” Andaya said. “They go through a drill of what to do at every shift change.”


“It is our understanding that at the 8 a.m. shift change, someone ‘hit the wrong button’—erroneously sounding the alert,” he said.

“The false alarm is still under investigation by the State of Hawaii,” Andaya said and a press conference is planned for 1 p.m. this afternoon. “Although it was a false alarm, we should take this opportunity to prepare ourselves for such emergencies. Our residents should remember that if this was an actual ballistic missile attack, the public is advised to get inside, stay inside and stay informed.”

The public should also be reminded that prior to an emergency, make a plan, create an emergency kit and stay informed.

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Following the initial warning alert, HIEMA officials issued an update at around 8:30 a.m. saying: “While conducting a regular test of the Emergency Broadcast System, an error was made.” County authorities relayed the message saying here was “no threat to Maui County from Ballistic Missiles at this time.”

Governor David Ige is meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.

“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” said Gov. Ige.

County Communications Director Rod Antone notes that the warning did not originate from Maui County. The State Emergency Management will have more information on this later today.

“This appears to be a mistake, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from this, and we should,” said Antone. “Remember that if this attack had been real, people should ‘get inside, stay inside and stay informed.’  What this means is that if you’re out shopping, stay in the store; if you’re at home stay at home. Don’t go driving anywhere. Turn on the radio or television and listen to the news.”

A guidance summary of what to do in the event of an actual attack can be found at

The following is a statement by Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7- Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe), Senate Majority Leader, on today’s false ballistic threat alarm:

“The events surrounding this morning’s false alarm regarding a “ballistic missile threat to Hawaiʻi” is both unfortunate and very unacceptable. The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (Civil Defense) and the United States Pacific Command Center have confirmed that there is no threat to our islands.

I am outraged that a mistake of this magnitude occurred. The initial alert was sent out via Civil Defense at 8:15 a.m. HST and it took the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency over 38 minutes to clarify that the “alarm” was inadvertent and indeed a mistake. The panic and pandemonium that many in Hawaiʻi experienced was unwarranted and completely unnecessary.

I will be working with my colleagues in the Legislature to investigate into this matter and to provide the proper oversight to ensure that our state emergency alert system is properly functioning. We need to ensure that this never happens again and I am committed to doing so.”

House of Representatives Speaker Scott K. Saiki released the following statement after the false missile alarm:

“This system we have been told to rely upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences. Measures must be taken to avoid further incidents that caused wholesale alarm and chaos today.

“Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes.

“The Hawaii House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happened and there be consequences. This cannot happen again.”

Representative Justin H. Woodson of Maui also offered comment saying:

“As a member of the State House Veterans, Military, and International Affairs Committee, please rest assured that I will personally inquire into what happened so that we can ensure such errors do not happen in the future.  Furthermore, the Hawaii House of Representatives will be investigating the matter and consequential action will be taken.  Given the current climate, these errors are unacceptable and we will do all that we can to protect the people and families in our communities.”

*Please check back for updates which will be posted as they become available.


*Story by Wendy Osher; Debra Lordan contributed to this report.

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