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False missile alert spurs hysteria, panic in Hawaii

A false ballistic missile threat alert was sent to all cell phones in Hawaii on Saturday morning, sending the state’s 1.4 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors into a panic for more than 30 minutes until emergency officials confirmed the message was sent in error.

The cause of the false alarm? A state emergency management employee apparently pushed the wrong button.

“I know firsthand that what happened today is totally unacceptable, and many in our community were deeply affect by this,” Gov. David Ige said, at a news conference at the Hawaii Emergency Management agency on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced.
I, too, am very angry and disappointed that this happened.”

While city and military officials took to social media within 15 minutes to quell fears and say the message was sent in error, it took state emergency management — which sent out the message in the first place — 38 minutes to send out a “false alarm” alert to cell phones using the same mechanism that distributed the emergency warning in the first place.

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