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Hawaii ‘ballistic missile threat’ alert to phones was false alarm, officials say

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Residents of Hawaii were thrown into a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent warning of a ballistic missile threat. But officials minutes later said it was a false alarm.

“NO missile threat to Hawaii,” the state’s Emergency Management Agency tweeted at 8:20 local time (1:20 ET).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, tweeted: “This is a false alarm. There is no incoming missile to Hawaii.”

The city and county of Honolulu and U.S. Pacific Command also put out statements calling the warning an “error.”

Sandra Stephenson, an Oahu resident, told MSNBC that she received the alert on her cellphone and immediately began calling neighbors to verify if it was real.

Stephenson said a neighbor, who is a fireman, told her the message was not a false alarm and advised her to go inside and close the windows. It was only later, when she contacted her daughter on the mainland, that Stephenson said she learned the truth.

She wasn’t sure what she would have done if the alert had been real.

“There is no recourse,” she said, adding that her house is near the water and it’s surrounded by windows. “To me, there is no recourse.”

Local television featured the message interrupting programming, telling viewers the warning was in effect at 8:07 a.m. until 6:07 p.m.

The unintended alert comes after Hawaiian officials in November said they were reinstating air raid warning sirens because of rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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