Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said federal and state officials were investigating how Hawaii's emergency management system sent out a false missile alert. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday said Hawaii didn't have "reasonable" safeguards in place to prevent erroneous alerts like the one Saturday in which Hawaiians were falsely warned about an incoming missile.
Pai said a federal investigation into the emergency alert was underway in concert with state officials.
"Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert," he said in a statement.
Shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, Hawaiian residents received a cellphone alert that read, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
Within 15 minutes of the alert, the Hawaii Emergency Management issued a tweet confirming the alert was sent in error and after 40 minutes pushed an alert to residents' cellphones.
The alert sent people scrambling for shelters, overloaded cellphone services and crashed the Hawaii Emergency Management's website. Warnings also appeared on television in the state.
Vern Miyagi, the administrator of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency, took the blame for the error, saying someone in the department pushed the wrong button during a shift change. Miyagi said it is his responsibility to oversee the system for such notifications and that the agency would take steps to prevent the mistake from happening again.
"Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again. Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what's necessary to fix them. We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out."
Gabbard on Sunday said the error was "unacceptable" but that it highlights a need for President Donald Trump to negotiate with North Korea.
"We've got to get to the underlying issue here of why are the people of Hawaii and this country facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea today, and what is this President doing urgently to eliminate that threat?" she said during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union.