False ballistic missile alert sends Hawaii into panic after employee hits ‘wrong button’

Hawaii’s governor said an emergency management employee accidentally “pushed the wrong button,” sending out an alert that warned people of a nonexistent incoming ballistic missile and sent the state into a panic.

Amid months of heightened nuclear tension between the U.S. and North Korea, the Saturday morning alert that went to cellphones and televisions read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Hawaii Gov. David Ige told CNN that human error caused the alert to go out.

“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” he said.

The Hawaii Emergency Management agency tweeted that the alert was false within 15 minutes of it being sent out around 8 a.m., but cellphone screenshots show a delay of nearly 40 minutes between the original alert and another declaring it to be a false alarm.

Ige said he met with the state defense and emergency management officials to not only find out how this could occur, but to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“The public must have confidence in our emergency alert system,” he said.

The alert sent people scrambling for shelter and their cars. Cell phones were overloaded and the Hawaii Emergency Management website appeared to go down.

“I was just putting on my makeup when this popped up and I got the biggest fright of my life,” a tourist told Hawaii News Now.

Alarms went off at a crowded gymnastics festival, causing a rush of people trying to get to back rooms.

“I was with my two little girls who are eight and 10 and kids were crying and no body really knew what to do,” an attendee told HNN.

Jaime Malapit, owner of a Honolulu hair salon, texted his clients that he was…

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