False missile alert spreads panic in Hawaii

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By Alice Cuddy
False missile alert spreads panic in Hawaii
Copyright  TWITTER @valeriebeyers/via REUTERS

A ballistic missile warning sent out to residents of Hawaii on Saturday morning was a false alarm, officials have confirmed.

Hawaiian citizens received an emergency alert on their mobile phones shortly after 8am local time, reading: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

The message sent people on the island into a panic before the error was corrected around 20 minutes later by email.

There was no follow-up mobile text for 38 minutes.

Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency confirmed on Twitter that there was “NO missile threat to Hawaii” in an effort to clear up the confusion.

Other agencies and senior officials also took to social media to spread the message that there was no incoming missile.

Hawaii Governor David Ige said he was meeting with top officials from the Department of Defense and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what had caused the false alarm and how to prevent it from happening again.

“While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future,” he said in a statement.

The alert came amid rising tensions between the US and North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has claimed to have developed a ballistic missile capable of striking all of the US mainland. 

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump taunted Kim, warning that he has a “much bigger" and "more powerful” nuclear button.