US President Donald Trump continued to golf on Saturday, 13 January, as Hawaii rushed for cover after a false cell phone alert warned of an imminent ballistic missile attack in the state. The message was mistakenly sent to Hawaii's residents and comes amid heightened tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear programme as well as the Asian country's defiant testing of ballistic missiles.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII," the alert, which was delivered around 8am local time on Saturday, read. "SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
The emergency alert was sent to residents' mobile phones and was aired on TV and radio stations across Hawaii as well.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and Honolulu Department of Emergency Management took to Twitter shortly after to assure people that there was no missile threat. A correction was only sent to mobile phones 38 minutes after the initial false alarm. It read, "There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. False. Alarm."
According to officials, the "mistake" occurred during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift when an employee "pushed the wrong button".
Meanwhile, President Trump was at his Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Florida when the false alert was sent out. The alert was issued at 1:09pm EST, while the presidential motorcade only left the club for his Mar-a-Lago resort at 1:38pm.
Later in the evening, Trump did not issue a statement or tweet about the mistaken scare in Hawaii. However, he did take to Twitter to slam "fake news" and denounced "mentally deranged" Michael Wolff's much-discussed book Fire and Fury as a "fake book".
Twitter was left fuming after Trump continued his latest round of golf and later failed to make any mention of the false alarm in Hawaii.
Former Pentagon official Col. Morris Davis tweeted, "For 38 minutes, American citizens in Hawaii braced for a ballistic missile strike... and @realDonaldTrump continued his round of golf in Florida on his 120th taxpayer-funded vacation day in less than a year."
"As 1.5 million American citizens were told a ballistic missile was headed their way and to seek shelter immediately, @realDonaldTrump was somewhere on the back nine of his Florida golf course," former Democrat Representative John Dingell wrote. "He went ahead and finished out 18."
"Thank God the President was playing golf," Patrick Granfield, a former Pentagon communications director during Obama's administration, quipped.
Some people questioned whether Trump's golf game during the alert was actually a blessing in disguise.
"Imagine if this had been a real attack and not an accidental button push? Trump's disregard for the lives of Americans is appalling," one Twitter user said.
"President Trump should have stopped f**king golfing for 10 seconds to tweet that the Hawaii missile attack was a false alarm. People were in TERROR for 38 MINUTES! But the #ShitholePresident couldn't even interrupt his golf game to tell them all was OK," one person said furiously.
"The nation is divided: Are we angry or relieved that Trump just kept golfing?" Authors Guild President James Gleick wrote.