Fake earthquake, tsunami alert circulates across world

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HONOLULU (KHON) — It was not as widespread as the false ballistic missile threat of last year — but it was just as fake.

Just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, a false tsunami threat was spread around the world through official channels.

The incident is going to lead to an official investigation from Switzerland to Hawaii.

The message appeared to come from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

It reported a magnitude-8 earthquake in Japan — and that there was a tsunami threat.

It was also false, according to Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Director Chip McCreery. 

“It was fabricated, it was not a real message and there was no earthquake in Japan.”

The center received calls from weather agencies and tsunami centers around the world asking if it was true.

Officials quickly issued a message assuring the rest of the world that there had not been a major earthquake in japan and that there was no tsunami threat. 

To stop any false reports that might be spreading, the warning center also posted messages on Facebook and Twitter to let people know there was nothing to worry about.

Unlike the false ballistic missle threat that went out to cell phones statewide last year — this one was only shared on an official, closed communication circuit. 

McCreery says, “It’s a type of circuit that should be dedicated and secure, only within the meteorological services of the various countries. But obviously somehow that message got into that circuit.”

The circuit is operated by the World Meteorological Organization, based in Switzerland. McCreery says both it — and the National Weather Service — will investigate to find out how the message got into the system.

“So I think they will be able to determine at least a general idea of where that message came from and hopefully put something in effect to prevent that from happening in the future.”

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