Metro Detroit residents in Hawaii react after emergency alert mistakenly sent out

Officials say it was human error, message was sent on accident

By Larry Spruill - Reporter

DETROIT - Panic erupted after people in Hawaii were sent an emergency message warning of an immediate ballistic missile attack.

Hawaii's governor is blaming the error on somebody pushing the wrong button.

Hawaii has a population of nearly one and a half million. Everyone with a cellphone got the message. It took the state's Emergency Management Agency 38 minutes before another alert was sent out, saying the threat was a false alarm.

Local 4 News spoke with several local people who are in Hawaii and received the message.

Vanessa Vartanian said she reacted with "immediate fear" and "a lot of fear and panic" when she got the call from her son and then a text message to follow.

"Take immediate shelter, that there was a missile coming and it wasn't a drill," Vartanian said.

The message was not only sent to cellphones, it was also broadcasted on the radio and TV.

Local 4 News spoke Saturday with Vanessa Vartanian's son, Robert Vartanian, via FaceTime.

"A little bit nervous, but we didn't hear the sirens going off," Robert Vartanian said.

Local 4 News also spoke with one couple who was on their honeymoon in Hawaii.

"We were texting love ones, saying this is what's happening, we don't know what's going on, but we love you," Natalie Longosz said.

Though this false alarm was due to human error, many think an attack can still happen.

"I was thinking North Korea has done did it. I just kept thinking North Korea sent a missile," Vanessa Vartanian said. "It's very real and it's definitely always going to be on the back of our minds now."

Investigators are now looking into the incident and how another false alarm can be prevented in the future.

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