A civil worker in Hawaii who fired-off an unnecessary missile warning earlier this month actually thought a nuclear attack on the island was imminent; misreading test instructions left the night before and causing a state-wide panic as residents and tourists rushed for cover.
According to the New York Times, the state employee who sent the false alert on January 13th “issued the message intentionally” after he misunderstood instructions from the evening supervisor and thought a North Korean nuclear missile strike was imminent.
While the incident had been described by state officials as an “accident” after an employee “pressed the wrong button,” the new information raises serious questions over how missile warnings are approved and who has the authority to alert the public.
According to a written statement from the worker, other state employees had advanced warning of the missile test but had failed to inform the technician charged with engaging the alert system.
“When disaster strikes, it’s essential that Americans in harm’s way get reliable information so that they can stay safe and protect their loved ones,” said the Commission chairman in charge of the investigation. “People shouldn’t miss out on potentially lifesaving information just because the alert system’s current brush stroke is too broad.”