Japan; NHK posts online messages urging people to take shelter, days after similar error in Hawaii
Japan public broadcaster, NHK, mistakenly sent an alert warning citizens about a North Korean missile launch and urging them to seek immediate shelter, then retracted it minutes later – days after a similar error occurred in Hawaii.
NHK television issued the message on Tuesday on its news websites as well as on Twitter, saying North Korea appeared to have fired a missile at Japan. It said the government was telling people to take shelter.
The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management agency sent a mistaken warning of a North Korean missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering panic.
NHK’s 6.55 p.m. (0955 GMT) alert on its web site said: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile…The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”
NHK deleted its tweet after several minutes, issued a correction and apologised several times on air. It said a mistake in using the alert system caused the error.
There were no immediate reports of panic or other disruptions following the NHK report. The false alert was corrected within minutes, unlike the similar gaffe which panic in Hawaii for over half an hour.
The broadcaster put out another message on the website correcting itself. “This happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the Internet had been incorrectly operated. We are deeply sorry,” an NHK announcer said on its 9:00 p.m. news program, bowing deeply in apology.
These mistaken alerts took place at a tense time in the region following North Korea’s largest nuclear test to date in September and its claim in November that it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach all of the U.S. mainland.
Pyongyang regularly threatens to destroy Japan and the United States.