For 38 harrowing minutes, residents and tourists in Hawaii were left to believe that missiles were streaming across the sky toward the Pacific island chain after an erroneous alert Saturday morning by the state’s emergency management agency.

“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” warned an 8:07 a.m. message transmitted across the state’s cellphone networks. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Only after an inexplicable delay by the state agency – during which residents scrambled to seek shelter and contact relatives – was a subsequent message sent describing the missile warning as a “false alarm.”

The frightening mistake, which Gov. David Ige, D, later attributed to a state employee’s errant push of a button, prompted outrage and calls for an investigation into how such an error could occur and take so long to correct. The episode underscored…

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