Fake Tsunami Report Issued on Fabricated Large Quake

May 21, 2019, 5:39 PM HST · Updated May 21, 6:10 PM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments

By Wendy Osher

Authorities with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center are calling an email report that was distributed at around 4:33 p.m., a false tsunami message.   The email appeared to be from an email address at the warning center, which alerted those on the email chain of a non-existent earthquake in Japan. Authorities are looking into the source.

Following the initial notification, Maui Now received a follow-up email allegedly from agency representatives calling for a “retraction,” saying: “We have determined that there was a glitch in the system and have sent out an incorrect message.”   It is unclear if that message was also a fabrication or if it was actually from the PTWC.

A subsequent notification from the PTWC called the initial message a “fabricated earthquake and tsunami threat.”


The fake message was distributed at 4:33 p.m. and indicated the time of origin was 2:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. Hawaiʻi time) on May 22, 2019. The fake message stated that there was a large magnitude earthquake in Japan and a subsequent tsunami threat.

“There was no large earthquake in Japan at 2:15 (UTC) and there was no tsunami threat message issued by this center,” the updated message from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated.

Again, there is no tsunami threat in effect, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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