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Worker responsible for Hawaii's mistaken missile panic 'reassigned to other duties'

A mass panic was caused on Saturday after a statewide alert was issued telling citizens to seek immediate cover.

Hawaii Mistaken Missile Alert Source: Jhune Liwanag/AP

A WORKER WHO created a mass panic in the US state of Hawaii has been temporarily reassigned to other duties.

At the weekend, the most southerly state spent 38 excruciating minutes dealing with the prospect of an incoming missile after the state issued an emergency alert on Saturday warning its citizens to seek immediate shelter.

However, a spokesman for Hawaii’s early warning system declined to say what the employee in question’s new duties are.

“All we will say is that the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our emergency operations centre pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system,” said Richard Rapoza, as reported by NBC News.

Hawaii Mistaken Missile Alert Source: AP

After the panic, which saw all residents of the state issued with the alert, it emerged that the employee in question had been running a drill, and had simply selected a ‘live’ alert from a dropdown menu on his computer, as opposed to the ‘test’ scenario.

In the aftermath, officials tried to assure residents there would be no repeat false alarms. The agency changed protocols to require that two people send an alert and made it easier (and quicker) to cancel a false alarm.

The error sparked a doomsday panic across the islands known as a laid-back paradise. Parents clutched their children, huddled in bathtubs and said prayers. Students bolted across the University of Hawaii campus to take cover in buildings. Drivers abandoned cars on a highway and took shelter in a tunnel. Others resigned themselves to a fate they could not control and simply waited for the attack.

The 911 system for the island of Oahu was overwhelmed with more than 5,000 calls.

The panic occurred just weeks after Hawaii reinstated its Cold War-era nuclear warning system in response to the ongoing tensions being seen between the US and North Korea, to which Hawaii and Alaska are the nearest US states.

With AP

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