A Hawaii Civil Defense Warning Device will sound an alarm during natural disasters.
It took about 40 minutes, but she says everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they learned the warning was a false alarm.
Residents of Hawaii were told that a ballistic missile was heading for the Pacific island and that they should take cover, in a emergency alert sent to people's phones entirely by accident. "Seek Immediate Shelter. This Is Not A Drill".
At the same time, the Emergency Alert System would use Hawaii's broadcast industry - such as cable TV and wireless cable - to send an emergency message. But for more than a half hour, while the agency struggled to retract the warning, panicked Hawaiians scrambled to find shelter. "It was part of a drill that was going on", an agency spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
The emergency alert, which was sent to cellphones statewide just before 8:10 a.m., said: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII". But the warning wasn't called off for nearly another 40 minutes.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said human error caused the false alarm.
"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 in a conversation with CNN. He also took emergency management officials to task for taking 30 minutes to issue a correction, prolonging panic.
"What happened was ... during shift changes (with) outgoing and incoming staff, somebody selected the wrong item on a computer".
"It was unfortunate and regrettable", the Democratic governor said.
Hugh Rowden, from Decatur, Ill., was in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu when he got the alarm. "But my boss said we should return and seek shelter". "This was a different sensation, that's for sure".
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"I was at flight school this morning, listening to the radio when an alarm went off", he said. "Especially in a place you don't know". What shelter is going to protect me & my family from a nuclear bomb?
An alert system is in place because of the potential proximity of Hawaii to North Korean missiles. Then a human being triggers an alarm for phone and television; a separate person triggers the nuclear warning siren - which did not go off Saturday.
"What happened today is totally inexcusable", tweeted Schatz.
"There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process", he wrote.
In another tweet, the representative announced holding a special meeting to determine false alarm reasons. According to Palm Beach Post reporter George Bennett, Trump spent the morning golfing at the Trump International Golf Club, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the state of Hawaii's emergency management exercise.
Cherese Carlson, in Honolulu for a class and away from her children, said she called to make sure they were inside after getting the alert.
Wada said the instructors and staff at the school "seemed calm", despite being at Honolulu International Airport, which is located adjacent to the US military's Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The notice turned out to be a false alarm, but the ensuing panic quickly turned to anger and a demand for answers by Hawaiians, their politicians and even the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission about what happened.
This is a developing story.
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