OFFICIALS HAVE been warned to tighten control on their emergency alert system after everyone on the island of Hawaii was mistakenly warned of an incoming ballistic missile.
The Hawaiian Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) triggered panic in the streets after someone at the control centre apparently pressed "Missile Alert" instead of "Test Missile Alert" after coming up against what has been described as a poor user interface, reports the Washington Post.
The message warned to "seek immediate shelter" and that "this is not a drill".
It was a drill.
Worse than that, though, it took 38 minutes of Orson Wellesesque panic before anyone worked out how to shut the ruddy thing off as it required 'extraordinary' permissions.
Eventually, a cancellation message was sent but not before it freaked out a lot of islanders and tourists.
But don't worry. It won't happen again. HEMA has it covered. It has added a 'cancel' button. Woohoo!
This should mean that it can't happen again, or at least, if it does, it won't take so long to admit it went wrong and get people to stand down.
The island of Hawaii is on edge right now because it is not known exactly what North Korea's nuclear capability is, and it is thought that, should the rogue state be able to blow up anywhere in American, Hawaii is a prime candidate and the warning would be as little as 20 minutes.
Human intervention in alerts like this has long been an issue. The 1983 film War Games starts with a human refusing to trigger a nuclear bomb, believing it to be a false alarm.
Which is almost entirely the opposite of this, but the parallels remain.
The UK government has looked at enabling the emergency alert system in the UK, however, critics have said it would be susceptible to fraud. Or fat fingered morons, seemingly.
During the last test of the warning system on Hawaii, 93 per cent of the sirens worked, but it is reported that a number made a noise like an ambulance instead of an air raid.
Meanwhile, the trigger-fingered HEMA employee has been 'reassigned'. Probably to latrines. µ
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