A screenshot taken by Hawaiian citizen Alison Teal shows the screen of her mobile phone with an alert text message sent to all Hawaiian citizens on January 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Alison TEAL (credit: Getty Images)
A preliminary report released on Tuesday from the Federal Communications Commission details the events leading up to a false missile alert sent to mobile phones and television and radio broadcast stations in the state of Hawaii earlier this month.
The report (PDF) suggests that the employee who sent the alert did not hear a recording notifying staff that an announcement regarding an incoming missile was simply a test.
Instead, the employee apparently thought it was the real thing, according to the FCC.
The missile alert was not corrected for 38 minutes, sending residents of Hawaii into a panic.
After the situation was rectified, Hawaii officials, including Governor David Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) Administrator Vern Miyagi, attributed the mistake to “human error,” saying that the employee knew the missile alert was supposed to be a test but had designated that the alert was supposed to be an “event” rather than a “test” by accident.
The employee did not agree to be interviewed by the FCC but instead issued a written statement to the federal commission.
The letter said that, contrary to explanations made by Hawaii officials, the employee didn’t issue an alert warning by fumbling through a software menu by accident.
Instead, the employee meant to send the warning, believing the internal announcement about an inbound threat was real.
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