HONOLULU -- Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), says it appears the government of Hawaii didn't have reasonable safeguards in place that would have prevented a false alert about an imminent missile strike from being sent.

Pai said in a statement Sunday that an FCC investigation is under way into the false alert that sounded on hundreds of thousands of cell phones across Hawaii, sending residents and tourists scrambling for cover ahead of an expected attack in a state on edge about the threat from North Korea.

"The false emergency alert sent yesterday in Hawaii was absolutely unacceptable. It caused a wave of panic across the state -- worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued," Pai said.

Vern Miyagi, the administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), took responsibility for the mistake. Miyagi said the error happened during a shift change around 8 a.m., stating "the wrong button was pushed" during the internal drill.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the alert said. The agency sent a corrected alert 38 minutes later.

Cindy McMillan, communications director for Hawaii Gov. David Ige, told reporters on Sunday that the employee who sent the false alert had a chance to catch the mistake but pressed the wrong button twice. McMillan said testing of the emergency system has been suspended for the time being. Once testing resumes, two people will be required to be involved in a test in order to avoid a false alert.

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