METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett says that he was at home in Hawaii earlier this year when the state's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) mistakenly sent a warning that a ballistic missile was heading to the islands, leading hundreds of thousands of people to believe they were about to die in a nuclear attack.
"My phone went off, you know, [like] one of those Amber [Alerts]?" Hammett recalled in a recent interview with METALLICA's fan club, So What! (see video below). "It was very similar to that; it just kind of did this little 'alarm' thing. I was doing yoga. I was on my back, upside down or something, and my son said, 'Hey, Dad, your phone just made one of those funny sounds, like there's a tsunami coming or something.' And I'm, like, 'Huh?' I walked over to my phone, and picked it up and it said, 'Missile Alert. Incoming missiles imminent. This is not a test.' And I'm reading this going, 'What?' And where I live, I can see the airport out my living room… And I can see Pearl Harbor! And there's no action there — no action whatsoever. In fact, it was so quiet everywhere. And I know for a fact that there's an early detection system that sits at Pearl Harbor. It's this huge thing that looks like a golf ball, it's like four stories high, and it's the early detection system for all the Americans in the entire Pacific. Nothing was happening. There was no jet scrambling, no boats leaving Pearl Harbor. There were no sirens or anything, you know, no air raid sirens. So I thought, 'This has got to be a mistake.' And I just continued doing my yoga. Fifteen minutes later, I went online and it said, 'Yeah, mistake,' and I was, like, 'It's okay, boys.'"
The false alert went out on the morning of January 13, and a correction wasn't sent to phones for 38 minutes.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the alert, sent to cell phones across the state, read.
The alert was sent in an error by an employee of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency who pushed the wrong button, the agency said. An officer in the emergency operation center mistakenly selected an incorrect template to send the message to the public instead of the correct template that would've been sent internally.
The employee who issued the alert was later fired.
METALLICA is currently home on a three-month break before launching a North American arena tour on September 2 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The band has been touring in support of its latest album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", which arrived in November 2016.