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Panic ensues after false alarm warns of incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii

Business Insider Australia logo Business Insider Australia 13/01/2018 Hilary Brueck, Sonam Sheth

Watch: Hawaii Missile Threat Quickly Ruled False Alarm (Provided by Wochit)

People in Hawaii were sent into a panic Saturday morning when they got an emergency alert on their phones that said, "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

Officials said quickly after that the alert went out by mistake and was a false alarm.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted, "NO missile threat to Hawaii."

Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki of the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the agency in charge of providing aerospace warnings in North America, told BuzzFeed News, "There is no missile threat. We're trying to figure out where this came from or how this started. There is absolutely no incoming ballistic missile threat to Hawaii right now."

"My phone's blowing up right now," Nawrocki added.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Business Insider Inc Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Brian Schatz, both of whom represent Hawaii, said on Twitter that alert was a false alarm.

"What happened today is totally inexcusable," Schatz later added. "The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process."

A Hawaii EMA spokesman also told BuzzFeed News that they were in the process of sending another message to cancel the initial alert.

"It was part of a drill that was going on," they said.

The second alert went out about 45 minutes later.

"There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False alarm," the message said.

Twitter users were in a frenzy as the situation unfolded.

Hawaii began testing its nuclear warning system in December, CNN reported. It was the first time since the Cold War that Hawaii reinstituted the practice, and it comes as the US sees heightening tensions with North Korea, which has increased its nuclear aggression in recent months.

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