Governor took 15 minutes to announce missile alert was false

The Hawaii National Guard's top commander said Friday he told Gov. David Ige that a missile alert was a false alarm two minutes after it went out statewide. But the governor didn't tell the public until 15 minutes later.

Maj. Gen. Arthur "Joe" Logan told state lawmakers that he called the governor at 8:09 a.m. Saturday after confirming there was no threat. Rep. Kaniela Ing asked why the governor didn't immediately address the public, but Ige had left the hearing.

Gov. Ige's spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said the governor had to track her down to prepare a message. She said the communications team handles his social media.

Ige's office relayed an emergency management agency tweet that it was a false alarm at 8:24 a.m. Six minutes later, a notice went up on his Facebook page.

A state employee mistakenly sent an emergency alert to mobile devices and TV and radio stations warning of an incoming missile strike, causing widespread panic and confusion.

A corrected alert was not sent to mobile devices for nearly 40 minutes because state workers had no prepared message for a false alarm.

Hawaii emergency workers immediately started calling city and county officials to tell them there was no threat. They posted social media messages about 13 minutes after the erroneous warning.

On Thursday, the Hawaii state Department of Defense said it took about 10 minutes for an employee to think of sending a new alert canceling the alert.

Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said that amid the alert's chaos, a telecommunications staffer presented his idea to create a new alert on the same platform that sent out the mistake. The agency checked with federal officials, composed and uploaded the alert to their online system and eventually issued the retraction.

The initial warning was sent at 8:07 a.m. and the correction reached cellphones at 8:45.

It is estimated that a missile would take about 20 minutes to reach Hawaii from North Korea. Officials say it would take about five minutes for the military to analyze the launch trajectory and notify the state, leaving only 12 to 15 minutes of warning time before impact.


Associated Press writer Caleb Jones in Honolulu contributed to this report.