The employee who triggered the Hawaii missile alert has been "reassigned".
- Kiwi woman tells of horrific Hawaii missile false alarm
- Hawaii accidentally sends out missile threat alert
On Saturday morning, residents of Hawaii were mistakenly alerted via their phones a missile was inbound.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII," it reads in all-caps. "SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
It has now been discovered that the employee who sent out the alert accidentally selected the wrong option in a drop-down box.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee was supposed to initiate an internal test of the emergency missile warning system.
This was meant to act as practice at sending out the emergency alert without actually sending it.
There were two options on the computer drop-down menu: 'Test missile alert' and 'Missile alert'.
While he should have clicked on the first option, he accidentally selected the second, sending 1.5 million people into panic.
While the employee realised his mistake just minutes later, it was 38 minutes before the public received an alert that the warning message was a false alarm.
During this time, Hawaii residents and visitors were thrown into terror, with parents trying to protect their children and waiting no updates from the media.
"There was nothing on the news or anything, and no other alerts. Everybody was a bit stressed - they didn't know what was going on," Dunedin woman Leah Hay told Newshub by phone from Honolulu.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard soon confirmed with officials it was a false alarm, sent out in error.
"HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM," she wrote on Twitter, also in all-caps. "THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE."
But what took so long to get the false alarm notice out?
HEMA spokesman Richard Rapoza told The Washington Post there was no system in place to fix the error.
The agency had permission from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send out the missile alert, but not to send out the false alarm notice.
"We had to double back and work with FEMA [to craft and approve the false alarm alert] and that's what took time," Mr Rapoza said.
The agency has now introduced an option to cancel an alert within seconds of a mistake.
"In the past there was no cancellation button. There was no false alarm button at all," Mr Rapoza told The Washington Post.
"Now there is a command to issue a message immediately that goes over on the same system saying 'It's a false alarm. Please disregard.' as soon as the mistake is identified."
The agency has also put in place a "two-person activation/verification rule" meaning a second person will now be required for confirmation before an alert can be sent out, whether real or a test.
Mr Rapoza said the employee involved has been temporarily reassigned but there are no plans to fire him.
"Part of the problem was it was too easy for anyone to make such a big mistake."
"We have to make sure that we're not looking for retribution, but we should be fixing the problems in the system... I know that it's a very, very difficult situation for him."