'Nuclear attack' email warning sparks alarm at university

The University of Hawaii.
The University of Hawaii. Photo credit: Getty

A university employee has apologised after sending an email to students and staff suggesting a nuclear attack on the campus was imminent.

The email, sent out to 50,000 students and 10,000 staff of the University of Hawaii last week, began "Subject: In the event of a nuclear attack", the Washington Post reported.

It gave instructions on what to do should North Korea launch a missile at the Pacific island, which is part of the US. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened to hit US territories in the Pacific, such as Guam.

"I take full responsibility for it," university spokesman Daniel Meisenzahl told the paper. "It was a mistake on my part."

He said the subject line "could use some work".

"If I were to do it all over again, the one thing I would have done is put 'unlikely' in the subject line," Mr Meisenzahl said.

Other things he admits he could have done include adding, in all-caps, "NO REASON FOR ALARM" or "Don't take this the wrong way."

He told the Post he'd rather news coverage of the university focus on its research into oceanography and astronomy, rather than his badly worded email.

"At least people are clicking on it," he shrugged.