An Australian man has revealed how his idyllic family holiday in Honolulu turned into a nightmare following a false warning of imminent nuclear annihilation.
Michael Manou, 40, was waking up to another morning in paradise with his wife and three young children on Saturday when he received a government-issued text saying a ballistic missile was inbound to Hawaii.
The alert was received by Mr Manou with a mixture of shock and disbelief, followed by frantic internet searching to try and find more information.
But his initial scepticism turned to fear after realising thousands of others had received the message, triggering crisis plans with his wife Lea, 40.
‘The fact that the alert stated that it was not a drill really sunk in after two to three minutes,’ Mr Manou told Daily Mail Australia on Saturday night, local time.
Michael Manou (pictured with his family), 40, has revealed how his idyllic family holiday in Hawaii turned into a 38-minute nightmare following a false government-issued warning of imminent nuclear annihilation
Mr Manou (pictured) was waking up to another morning in paradise with his wife Lea (pictured), 40, and three young children on Saturday when he received a text saying a ballistic missile was inbound to Hawaii
‘It became obvious very quickly that no one knew what to do.
‘We rang the reception of our hotel who told us to stay in our room, but they were ‘trying to verify the message and determine the next steps’.’
The message Mr Manou and Hawaiians received at 8.07am said: ‘BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL’.
The 40-year-old said he and his wife planned to leave the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort with their children but couldn’t be advised where the nearest shelter was.
So they chose not to tell their kids Alex, nine, Grace, seven and five-year-old Will – but packed bags with passports, phones and bottles of water.
‘The overriding emotion was helplessness – I thought back to the videos of Cold War era school kids practicing duck and cover drills,’ Mr Manou said.
‘Lea and I talked about the best way to respond if something did happen.’
An all-clear alert wasn’t issued for an excruciating 38 minutes – during which time thousands across the US state fled for shelter and braced for pending doom.
The alert (pictured) was received by Mr Manou with a mixture of shock and disbelief, followed by frantic internet searching to try and find more information
The 40-year-old said he and his wife planned to leave the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort with their children (pictured) but couldn’t be advised where the nearest shelter was
A text was eventually sent, saying: ‘There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.’
Mr Manou said the wait for the all-clear felt longer with the absence of further information, but he eventually assumed it meant it was a false alarm.
‘The longer it went without something happening, the more assured we became as we assumed any missile would have hit shortly after the alert,’ he said.
‘Obviously the events of the morning was the primary talking point throughout the day and most said their experience, emotion and response was similar to ours.
‘Once it was over, I would say that the overriding emotion was one of bemusement. It quickly became clear that someone made a mistake. We couldn’t understand how it could happen though.’
They chose not to tell their kids Alex (left), nine, Grace (right), seven and five-year-old Will (front) – but packed bags with passports, phones and bottles of water
An all-clear alert (pictured) wasn’t issued for an excruciating 38 minutes – during which time thousands across the US state fled for shelter and braced for pending doom
The false alarm was caused by a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who ‘pushed the wrong buttons’ during an internal drill timed to coincide with a shift handover.
Incredibly, officials said the employee – who is set to be retrained – wasn’t aware of it until mobile phones in the command centre began displaying the alert.
Another Australian holidaying in Hawaii Will Kirsop said he was sitting in a plane waiting to come home when the alert was issued.
‘I was kind of dazed, but [they stopped the plane] for a bit. We left 30 minutes late, but it seemed sweet,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Nonetheless, Mr Kirsop seemed unfazed by the bizarre incident, saying: ‘To be honest, I was meditating and didn’t really know. I was deeply meditating, I kind of woke into it and just stayed focused.
‘I could’ve died happy having surfed Waimea with dad.’