THE Governer of Hawaii says the reason an emergency alert was sent out claiming "a ballistic missile threat" was inbound to Hawaii was because an employee "pushed the wrong button".
"It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button," Governor of Hawaii David Ige told CNN.
On Saturday local time an emergency alert in capital letters was sent to the mobile phones of residents. It read: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said the alert was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened.
The tweet was then deleted and another message was posted reading: "NO missile threat to Hawaii".
The alert stirred panic for residents on the island and across social media.
Terrified residents scrambled to seek shelter, with some hiding in their garages. Authorities reportedly took 38 minutes to correct the mistake.
The alert was also broadcast on television in Hawaii. It said. "If you are outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a building. Remain indoors well away from windows. If you are driving, pull safely to the side of the road and seek shelter in a nearby building or lie on the floor. We will announce when the threat has ended."
While the message caused concern on social media, the Hawaii Office of Emergency Management quickly responded on Twitter, saying, "NO missile threat to Hawaii."
According to CNN, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi is headed to the agency's 24-hour operations centre to find out why the false alert about a ballistic missile was sent out.
"The warning was a mistake," Miyagi said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.