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3rd LD Writethru: False alert of ballistic missile threat to Hawaii sent by human error

Xinhua,January 14, 2018 Adjust font size:

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- An emergency text alert on Saturday warning residents in the U.S. state of Hawaii of an imminent ballistic missile threat was false alarm sent out due to human error, state officials said.

The U.S. military's Pacific Command and state authorities confirmed that there was no missile threat to Hawaii, which is a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, and home to the U.S. Pacific Command.

Hawaii Governor David Ige said in comments aired on CNN that "I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It was unfortunate and regrettable."

Ige apologized for the incident, saying that someone at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. "pushed the wrong button" during a routine shift change.

Such shift changes occur three times a day every day of the year, he added.

The alert, sent to mobile phones and also aired on television and radio, caused panic among Hawaiians and on social media platforms.

Sara Donchey, who said she was in Honolulu, Hawaii, tweeted that her family who were on the North Shore "were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying."

"It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken," she wrote.

The emergency text alert was sent to cellphones at about 8:07 a.m. local time (1807 GMT), reading in all caps that "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

It took about 38 minutes for the initial alert to be retracted, according to media reports.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency corrected the alert, saying on Twitter: "NO missile threat to Hawaii."

"Hawaii -- this is a false alarm," U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard said on her Twitter account. "I have confirmed with officials there is no incoming missile."

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that it was initiating a full probe into the incident. Enditem