A Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who mistakenly sent an alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile thought an actual attack was imminent, it has emerged.
The US Federal Communications Commission revealed Hawaii had been testing alert capabilities, and the employee mistook a drill for a real warning about a missile threat on January 13.
He responded by sending the alert without having it signed off by a supervisor.
The name of the worker has not been released. He still works at Hawaii Emergency Management Agency but has been reassigned to a job without access to the warning system.
The alert was sent to mobile phones, TV and radio stations in Hawaii, leading people to fear the state was under nuclear attack.
Hawaii accidentally sent out a message warning of a missile attack. This is what people saw. The Emergency Administrator tells me this is a false alarm. He's trying to find out why it happened. #Hawaii #missile pic.twitter.com/8F2Zyotw24— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) January 13, 2018
It took 38 minutes for officials to send an alert retracting the warning.
The Emergency Management Agency provided the FCC with information from a written statement from the officer.