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Found 5 results

  1. An electronic sign reads ?There is no threat? in Oahu after a false emergency alert that said a ballistic missile was headed for Hawaii. Photo: REUTERS HONOLULU: An alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile aimed at Hawaii was sent in error Saturday, sowing panic and confusion across the US state -- which is already on edge over the risk of attack -- before officials dubbed it a "false alarm." Emergency management officials eventually determined the notification was sent just after 8:00 am (1800 GMT) during a shift change and a drill after "the wrong button was pushed" -- a mistake that lit up phones across the archipelago with a disturbing alert urging people to "seek immediate shelter." There were frenzied scenes of people rushing to safety -- a bathtub, a basement, a manhole, cowering under mattresses. Adventurer Alison Teal called it "the worst moment of my life." The erroneous message came after months of soaring tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, with North Korea saying it has successfully tested ballistic missiles that could deliver atomic warheads to the United States, including the chain of volcanic islands. "I deeply apologise for the trouble and heartbreak that we caused today," said Vern Miyagi, administrator of Hawaii´s Emergency Management Agency. "We´ve spent the last few months trying to get ahead of this whole threat, so that we could provide as much notification and preparation to the public. "We made a mistake," he acknowledged in a press conference. "We´re going to take processes and study this so that this doesn´t happen again. "The governor has directed that we hold off any more tests until we get this squared away." As social media ignited with screenshots of the cell phone emergency warning, Representative Tulsi Gabbard quickly tweeted that it was a "FALSE ALARM," with Hawaii´s EMA confirming "there is NO missile threat to Hawaii." US military spokesman David Benham later said US Pacific Command "has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error." The warning -- which came across the Emergency Alert System that authorities nationwide use to delivery vital emergency information -- read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." A corrected message indicating that "there is no missile threat or danger to the state of Hawaii" was not dispatched to phones until nearly 40 minutes later. "I know firsthand that what happened today was totally unacceptable," Governor David Ige said of the alert, which was also broadcast on some local television stations. "I´m sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced." In explaining the delay, he noted there was no automatic way to cancel the false alarm, so it had to be done manually. 'Jarring' Both the governor and Miyagi assured no single person would be capable of making such a mistake in the future, and the Federal Communications Commission said it was launching a "full investigation" into the incident. The White House said US President Donald Trump had been briefing about the incident, calling the alert "purely a state exercise." Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, echoing stances of outrage taken by several other of the state´s politicians, called the mistaken notification "totally inexcusable." Though the alert was quickly deemed false, many Hawaii residents heeded the nerve-wracking warning, scrambling to take refuge in hallways and basements. Teal, the adventurer and Hawaiian native, said "everyone was in a panic." "Traveling the world as an extreme adventurer, I´ve been in very scary situations from snowstorms to sharks to hot lava. Nothing as terrifying as a missile coming to kill everyone you know and love," she told AFP. Lauren McGowan, on holiday in Maui with family members and friends, was on her way to breakfast when her phone blared the alert. She and her family quickly returned to their hotel, where staff ushered them along with some 30 people to a basement cafeteria and distributed water and food. The alert and rush to shelter caused "confusion," McGowan said, particularly for the children in the group. "No one had any idea what was really going on," the 28-year-old from New York told AFP, explaining they had no cellular service underground. "It was a bit jarring for sure," she said of the experience. Andy Priest said his parents thought they would die when the warning came. "My mom started to get up to go, and my Dad told her that if it was their time to go, he wanted to be looking at the ocean and enjoying the view," he wrote on Twitter. Several golfers participating in the US PGA Tour´s Sony Open in Honolulu also reacted to the alarming episode. "Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in laws," American golfer John Peterson tweeted. "Please lord let this bomb threat not be real." No time for 'posturing' Tourists and residents received the false alert just one month after Hawaii tested its nuclear attack siren system. The state will conduct the drill -- the first of its kind since the Cold War era -- monthly as part of its regular siren test, an emergency management spokesperson told AFP. Trump -- who in the past has deployed bombastic rhetoric at North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-Un -- had yet to react to the false warning. The US leader recently said he would be willing to speak directly with Kim, with whom he has traded sharp words over Pyongyang´s missile and nuclear tests, raising fears of attacks. Gabbard accused Trump of "posturing" and not taking nuclear threats from North Korea seriously and urged to begin direct talks with Pyongyang without preconditions. "The people of Hawaii experienced that in 15 minutes, they and their families are going to be dead," the Democratic lawmaker said. "Gone. That´s what they just went through."
  2. WASHINGTON: An emergency alert sent on Saturday to Hawaii?s residents warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack was transmitted mistakenly by state authorities due to human error, Hawaii?s governor and emergency management chief said. State officials and the US military?s Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. Governor David Ige, a Democrat, said in comments aired on CNN, ?I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It was unfortunate and regrettable. We will be looking at how we can improve the procedures so it doesn?t happen again.? The alert, sent to mobile phones and aired on television and radio, was issued amid high international tensions over North Korea?s development of ballistic nuclear weapons. Ige, who apologized for the incident, said the alert was sent out by mistake during a shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. He said such shift changes occur three times a day every day of the year. Vern Miyagi, the agency?s administrator, said in comments also aired on CNN, ?It was an inadvertent mistake. The change of shift is about three people. That should have been caught. ... It should not have happened.? The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced it was initiating a full investigation. The FCC has jurisdiction over the emergency alert system. Earlier this week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would vote at its January meeting to enhance the effectiveness of wireless emergency alerts, which have been in place since 2012. CHECK LIST Miyagi said there was a ?check list? that should have been followed. He said, ?I think we have the process in place. It?s an matter of executing the process. I think it?s human error.? ?This will not happen again,? he added. Media reports said it took 38 minutes for the initial alert to be corrected. After the alert was sent, the Emergency Management Agency later said on Twitter: ?NO missile threat to Hawaii.? A spokeswoman for US Representative Tulsi Gabbard said the congresswoman checked with the state agency that issued the alert and was told it was sent in error. Gabbard 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 stated: ?EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.? 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, including ?fire and fury.? Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida when the incident was unfolding. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump was briefed and that it ?was purely a state exercise.? Hawaii State Representative Matt LoPresti, described his family?s reaction upon receiving the alert, adding that ?someone should lose their job if this was an error.? ?We took shelter immediately ... in the bathtub with my children, saying our prayers,? LoPresti told CNN. ?I was wondering why we couldn?t hear the emergency sirens. I didn?t understand that. And that was my first clue that maybe something was wrong, whether a hack or an error. But we took it as seriously as a heart attack,? LoPresti added. 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 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. US Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, said on Twitter, ?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.? The US Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was the target of the surprise attack by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, that drew the United States into World War Two.
  3. US Army Maj Gen Arthur J. Logan (2nd L) speaks at a news conference ? along with Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho (L), Hawaii Governor David Ige (2nd R), and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi ? to discuss the newly-activated Attack Warning Tone intended to warn Hawaii residents of an impending nuclear missile attack, at the at the Civil Defense department at Diamond Head Crater in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Garcia HONOLULU: Hawaii this week will resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter-century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, state officials said on Tuesday. A recording of the wailing air-raid siren ? familiar to older generations who grew up hearing it on a regular basis ? was played at a news conference by Governor David Ige, civil defence, and emergency management officers in the state capital, Honolulu. Ige said he believed Hawaii was the first in the nation to reintroduce statewide nuclear siren drills. The announcement, though planned weeks earlier, came hours after North Korea?s latest test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan. The Pentagon said the rocket posed no danger to the United States, its territories or allies. But state emergency management authorities said they decided in recent months to reactivate the state?s nuclear attack sirens for the first time since the 1980s after experts deemed some of North Korea?s missiles were capable of reaching Hawaii. The wailing air raid sirens ? distinguished from steady-tone sirens already in use to warn of hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters ? were set to return on Friday. Both sirens will be sounded in separate 50-second intervals from more than 400 locations across the central Pacific islands starting at 11:45 AM in a test that will be repeated on the first business day of each month thereafter. The exercise is being launched in conjunction with public service announcements urging residents of the islands to ?get inside, stay inside and stay tuned? when they hear the warning. A single 150-kiloton weapon detonated over Pearl Harbor on the main island of Oahu would be expected to kill 18,000 people outright and leave 50,000 to 120,000 others injured across a blast zone several miles wide, state Emergency Management Agency officials have said, citing projections based on assessments of North Korea?s nuclear weapons technology. While casualties of that scale would be unprecedented on U.S. soil, an agency fact sheet stressed that 90 percent of Hawaii?s 1.4 million-plus residents would survive ?the direct effects of such an explosion?. Oahu ? home to a heavy concentration of the U.S. military command structure ? as well as Honolulu and about two-thirds of the state?s population, is seen as an especially likely target for potential North Korean nuclear aggression against the United States. In the event of an actual nuclear missile launch at Hawaii from North Korea, the attack sirens would give island residents and tourists just 12 or 13 minutes of warning before impact, according to the state?s fact sheet. In that case, residents are advised to immediately take cover ?in a building or other substantial structure". Although no designated nuclear shelters exist, staying indoors offers the best chance of limiting exposure to radioactive fallout. Ige called the North Korea threat a ?new normal?, adding that ?a possibility of attack today is very remote, but we do believe that it?s important that we be proactive, that we plan and are prepared for every possibility moving forward.?
  4. Natasha Politakis and her husband Ali Gul/SWNS.com A British newlywed?s plans of a dream honeymoon in Hawaii turned into a nightmare when they were detained at Los Angeles airport for 26 hours then sent home without explanation. The couple, Natasha Politakis, 29, and husband Ali Gul, 32, were on their way to Hawaii after saving up £7,000 for a romantic getaway. But instead, they were thrown into a detention centre at Los Angeles airport, handcuffed, and flown back to London without explanation. Against a backdrop of Donald Trump?s immigration crackdown, especially on Muslims from half-a-dozen Muslim-majority countries, the couple suspect it was because of Gul?s Muslim and Turkish heritage. ?I am in utter shock that this has happened. We had just got married, we were on our way to our honeymoon as excited as anything and never expected that we would be deported,? Politakis told British media. ?We were treated like criminals and we had all the relevant documentation and answered all their questions. It's not okay to treat people like that. ?As far as we knew before we left everything was fine, but as soon as we got there they wouldn?t let us in. ?We believe since Trump was elected, they took one look at his name, thought he was Muslim and didn?t let him in,? she was quoted as saying. The couple suspect the incident happened because Gul is a Muslim and Turkish/SWNS.com Gul, an estate agent, holds a British passport and said he had never had any problems going abroad before, despite being born in Turkey. A US embassy spokesman said in a statement that the United States welcomes more than a million passengers arriving every day. ?The religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs of an international traveller are not determining factors about his/her admissibility into the US,? the statement said. ?Under US immigration law applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States. In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome ALL grounds of inadmissibility. ?Specific grounds of inadmissibility can be found in INA § 212(a) and list more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility divided into several major categories, including health-related, prior criminal convictions, security reasons, public charge, labour certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,? the statement added.
  5. US President Donald Trump in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court has asked the State of Hawaii to respond by Tuesday at noon to President Donald Trump's motion to block a judge's ruling that prevented his travel ban from being applied to grandparents of US citizens and refugees already being processed by resettlement agencies, the court's public information office said on Saturday. In a court filing on Friday, the administration asked the justices to overturn Thursday's decision by a US district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration's temporary ban on refugees and travellers from six Muslim-majority countries. The latest round in the fight over Trump's March 6 executive order, which he says is needed to prevent terrorist attacks, began when the Supreme Court intervened last month to partially revive the two bans, which had been blocked by lower courts. The Supreme Court said then that the ban could take effect, but that people with a "bona fide relationship" to a US person or entity could not be barred. The administration had narrowly interpreted that language, saying the ban would apply to grandparents and other family members, prompting the state of Hawaii to ask Hawaii-based US District Judge Derrick Watson to expand the definition of who could be admitted. Trump banned travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, and refugees for 120 days. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in the fall over whether the ban violates the US Constitution.