False emergency alarms sent some Hawaii residents scrambling, confused if the alerts were real and harkening back to the 2018 false missile alarm that scarred the state.
Emergency sirens went off at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday on the island of Oahu, inadvertently activated during a Honolulu Police Department training, the city’s mayor Kirk Caldwell wrote on social media.
Hawaii’s Emergency Management Service tweeted the sirens were a mistake and there was no emergency, eight minutes after the sirens first started blaring.
In a video of the sirens going off posted on Facebook, the confusion and fear about the alarms were apparent.
"I'm scared. Are we going to die?" one person said.
Caldwell emphasized on social media that the sirens were a false alarm, writing in all capital letters, “There is no emergency and no cause for alarm.” The mayor said the city will investigate how and why how the alarms went off.
Honolulu PD took responsibility for the Wednesday incident and apologized. “We need to do better,” Chief Susan Ballard told Hawaii News Now, who explained that police were training on live equipment instead of training software.
”I am so sorry," she said. "We realize we need to make sure that we’re training on training equipment only.”
People on Oahu, unsure what to make of the sirens, began calling government services to see if the threat was real. Honolulu's National Weather Service issued a statement on social media shortly after the alarms sounded emphasizing there was no tsunami threat. The weather service said the agency received calls about sirens across the island of Oahu and said its employees contacted the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to confirm there was no threat.
On social media, people wondered how this could happen again.
Hawaii residents went into a mass panic in January 2018 after receiving an emergency alert on their phones, televisions and radios that said, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”
It took the state more than 30 minutes to send an additional alert, clarifying the missile threat was false.
One resident said the false alarms are going to make residents ignore warnings if there is ever a real threat. “No one will listen and the catastrophic results will be on yours hands,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Get it together Hawaii,” another person said.