• Friday, October 19, 2018
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Bogus missile alert sends frightened Hawaii residents scrambling

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    Participants at Punahou School’s admissions tour left the school’s gym after this morning’s alert was called off. They were evacuated to the gym during the alert.

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A mistaken alarm about a ballistic missile attack caused panic throughout Hawaii.

Celeste Russell was driving near the 7-Eleven in Waimanalo.

“There was a red light and people were beeping their horns for people to go through it, instead of stopping, because obviously, they wanted to get home themselves. So it was bad,” she said.

After the alarm went out, 32 youth flag football games scheduled throughout the day at Mililani Mauka Community Park were canceled, with some families leaving their tents and running to their cars.

“First reaction of course is to get the kids and make sure we’re all together and me and my family started going to our vehicle, just like everyone else,” said Paliku Kahalepuna, who lives in Waikane.

His two sons were supposed to play in football games at the park.

“We live on the other side of the island, so we figured, if this is real, what can you do, right?” Kahalepuna, 37, said.

So the family sheltered near the cinder-block bathroom.

“Definitely a reality check for us, and surreal at the same time,” Kahalepuna said, adding, “it was almost like a scene out of the movies to see everybody get up and leave everything.”

“All we did is grab our kids and go,” he said. “We left our tent up, we left our chairs. I was kind of watching everybody. Some kind of I guess you could say were in a mode of panic.”

A full slate of youth baseball games at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park were also canceled after the false alarm.

United Airlines cleared its lobby at Honolulu airport and sent passengers downstairs to the baggage claim area. Workers at Pearl Harbor were scrambling to get off the base.

At Punahou School, officials said athletic and other events, including an admission session for prospective students, were interrupted as people were briefly ushered into shelter-in-place facilities on campus after emergency messages were received. “Once the false alarm was announced, activity resumed,” school officials said.

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