The U.S. government on Tuesday faulted Hawaii's handling of a false alert of a missile attack in January, saying the employee who issued the warning mistook a test drill for an actual attack.
The false alarm about an incoming missile attack that terrified Hawaiians earlier this month may have been due to an employee who mistook a drill for the real deal.
The false alarm was transmitted to mobile phones, caused widespread panic, and went uncorrected for 38 minutes.
The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday issued a preliminary report faulting, in part, Hawaii's Emergency Managment Agency for miscommunication and lack of oversight.
The drill, on the morning of January 13, simulated a call from U.S. Pacific Command reporting an incoming ballistic missile.
A recording included the phrase, "this is not a drill." It ended with the phrase, "exercise, exercise, exercise."
According to a statement written by the employee, he or she heard, "this is not a drill," but not the word "exercise."
The software asked the employee, "Are you sure you want to send this Alert?" The employee clicked 'yes.'
Other employees told the FCC they heard the 'exercise' language. An FCC lawyer said the agency had not yet interviewed the employee in question, and could not "fully evaluate" the employee's assertion that he or she believed it was an actual attack.
This explanation differs from Hawaiian governor David Ige's comments that an employee pushed the wrong button by mistake: "An error was made in Emergency Management, which allowed this false alarm to be sent."
Hawaii plans to issue a seperate report Tuesday.