On Saturday, Jan. 13, residents and tourists of Hawaii faced a moment of panic just after 8 AM when an emergency Alert warning of an imminent Ballistic Missile strike on the island state blared across cell phones and televisions.


Officials eventually sent a tweet that called the alert a mistake, and blaming human error — but not before 38 minutes passed with no official explanation, terrifying those in the Aloha State that an apocalyptic event was looming. With tensions between the United States and North Korea escalating over recent months, this silence was deafening to those leery of a nuclear attack.

'We will get involved'

President Trump joined local officials in refraining from tweeting or commenting on the incident for more than 24 hours. His silence was mocked by Alec Baldwin, who took to Twitter with a parody of his own.

On Monday (Jan. 15), Trump broke his silence and commended the State of Hawaii for taking total responsibility for the embarrassing mistake that sent thousands into a panic. However, he vowed that the federal government would get involved in its own investigation.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will lead the federal investigation. He called the mistake "absolutely unacceptable" in an interview with FOX News on Sunday (Jan. 14).

Alert system uncertainty

The delayed response to the incident by local, state, and federal officials added to the growing mystery surrounding the transmission of the false emergency alert. Military officials told NBC News that they almost immediately knew the alert was false, as it did not originate from their departments. They did not publicly comment on the alert while they investigated its source.

Vern Miyagi, the administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, took total responsibility for the mistake. He told press outlets on Sunday that his department did not anticipate a false alarm, leading to mass confusion in his department and the ensuing delay before the alert was rescinded. He said an employee "pushed the real button instead of a test button" during a change of shift.

"Our goal is to never have this happen again," Miyagi said.

According to Miyagi's agency, corrective measures have already been implemented to improve the state's emergency response process and minimize the potential for human error, including adding a second person to the process.

As public fears of nuclear war continue to grow with an increasingly volatile relationship between the United States and North Korea, officials remain outraged over the situation and continue to call for more oversight over the emergency-response process, especially in Hawaii, where fears of a North Korean attack date back to the Obama Administration.