Troops at the U.S. base closest to the North Korean border were sent scrambling momentarily on Thursday after they heard an emergency siren instead of a bugle tune, sparking fears of a purported “Christmas gift” from the North.
A military spokesperson said the emergency siren was a “human error” at Camp Casey, the military base located just south of the Demilitarized Zone about 40 miles north of Seoul, South Korea.
“When the operator realized that he pushed the wrong button, they notified all the units on Camp Casey that it was a false alarm,” Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, 2nd Infantry Division spokesman, said Friday, according to Stars and Stripes, adding that it did not interfere with any operations.
He said taps, a bugle call played at the end of the day on U.S. bases, should have been played over the announcement system instead.
A second such emergency alert sounded hours later – around 12:22 a.m. local time Friday when Japanese broadcaster NHK erroneously reported that a North Korean missile had landed in the sea near the northern island of Hokkaido.
The text alert, which was also delivered to users’ phones through the NHK apps, suggested the missile’s flight path was directly over Japanese territory.
About 30 minutes later, the broadcaster issued a correction, stating that the report was a training text.
The erroneous emergency sirens come days after U.S. officials – including President Donald Trump – said they were monitoring a potential “Christmas gift” from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that could include a new missile test.
The North threatened to take unspecified action if sanctions are not eased by the end of the year, and speculation has centered on the possibility of a new test of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
Nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled since a February summit between Trump and Kim fell apart.