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Hawaii panics after inbound missile alert goes off in error

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Kent Nishimura  Getty Images North America

Thousands of people panicked across the island of Hawaii Saturday morning following a false ballistic missile warning spread across the state.

He blamed Hawaii's status as a potential target on its being home to the U.S. Pacific Command and the Navy's Pacific Fleet. But for more than a half hour, while the agency struggled to retract the warning, panicked Hawaiians scrambled to find shelter.

The warning which came across the Emergency Alert System that authorities nationwide use to the delivery vital emergency information read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII".

Kylie Anne was holidaying in Hawaii with her husband and children when the public alert went off, warning residents in Hawaii that a ballistic missile was heading their way.

"I just knew that I needed to start saying goodbye", Williams said.

"It is a false alarm".

In a video Murdock posted to Facebook, she said her family flew out of bed after receiving the alert but didn't know what to do.

"No one had any idea what was really going on", the 28-year-old from NY told AFP, explaining they had no cellular service underground. Vern Miyagi of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said, "There is a screen that says are you sure you want to do this?"

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Hawaii's governor said an emergency management employee pushed the wrong button. These shift changes happen three times a day, every day of the year, he added. People are urged to take shelter in buildings, and to move away from windows if they are indoors.

Gov. David Ige (D) said he would consult with officials to ensure future "confidence" in the emergency alert system.

"There is a screen that says, 'Are you sure you want to do this?'" Mr Miyagi said, adding the employee "feels awful about it". Miyagi, who took responsibility for the incident, said the mistake "should have been caught".

"The risk of accidental nuclear war is not hypothetical - accidents have happened in the past, and humans will err again", tweeted Perry, who served under former President Bill Clinton.

The Federal Communications Commission is launching a full investigation into the alert, according to Chief of Staff Matthew Berry. Samuel Hickman, from Avon, was one of the many vacationing in Hawaii as this all unfolded.

The White House said President Donald Trump, at his private club in Florida, was briefed on the false alert. "This is not ok", wrote Kaniela Ing, a state legislator, on Twitter.

The latest was November 29, when North Korea said it launched a new, nuclear-capable weapon that could allegedly reach the entire continental United States.

"We were scared to death", said Bray. "The whole state was terrified".

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