Panic ensued in Hawaii for about 40 minutes on Saturday, after a false emergency alert notice was issued: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The alarming message was apparently sent to thousands of people’s mobile phones, and an alert also appeared on television. However, it turned out to be a false alarm — Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency quickly tweeted that there was no missile threat to the state, although it took 38 minutes before a second emergency alert was sent saying that there was no danger.
As per a report by The Indian Express, the text was apparently sent by mistake when an employee at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency pushed a wrong button during a shift handover. However, the nuclear experts have underlined that such mistaken message could start an unintended war. They cite a Korean passenger airline which, in 1983, en route to Seoul, flew into Soviet airspace. Mistaking it for a US spy vessel, Soviet officials shot down the Korean flight, killing all 269 people on board.
A misunderstanding may lead the USA into a strike. And the 38-minute lag (like in case of Hawaii), between the message and its correction, may have pushed Pyongyang into action, fearing the ‘warning’ was a cover for an American attack, as per a report by The Indian Express. Notably, in September, Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test after which it was reported that a missile launched from North Korea could strike Hawaii within 20 minutes of launch. Thereby, a gap as long as 38 minutes, can well trigger a war-like situation in the world.