Investigation underway after entire state of Hawaii sent into panic mode

An emergency alert warning of an imminent missile attack was mistakenly sent out, causing panic among more than a million people in Hawaii.
3:41 | 01/14/18

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Transcript for Investigation underway after entire state of Hawaii sent into panic mode
still Facebook living the show. Right up to the limit. You're sipping coffee on a weekend morning and you get an emergency alert on your phone saying a ballistic missile is heading toward your state. This is a wild and disturbing story. Exactly what happened, what Paula just described on Saturday for hundreds of thousands of locals and tourist IFS Hawaii. The message, ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill. Understandably, it set off panic and hysteria. People thought North Korea was unching a nuclear strike. Students at the university of Hawaii running for cover. Drivers abandoning their car on the street. A father removing a manhole cover and putting his children inside for cover. It took 38 minutes before another message went out saying the whole thing was a mistake. There was no threat afterall. So many questions this morning. Why did it take so long to fix? How did we get to this point of tension? We begin with Jim Avila in Honolulu. Good morning to you. Reporter: Good morning, Dan and Paula. The good news is Hawaii is still here. Not wiped off the map. And the panic attack asere pos be over. After an entire state is told by its government the duck and cover. This is not a drill. If you are indoors, stay indoors. Reporter: This was the horrifying wakeup call for more than 1 million hawaiians on Saturday morning. The dire warning sounding off on phones. TVs. And radios. At 8:07 A.M. Local time. If you're outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a building. Remain indoors, well away from windows. Reporter: This chilling alert of a ball there'sic missile heading for Hawaii. This is not a drill. Reporter: Sparking mass panic and confusion. People are -- are lock down their homes. Heading for the mountains. I don't want to go in. Reporter: This video, showing a man desperately trying to shield his child in manhole. Th entire state scrambling for any last bit of shelter. We all freaked out. We all started running down to the bomb shelter. Let me call my wife and tell her I lo her. Reporter: But the alert was not real. A state official confirming with the pacific command. There was, in fact, no missile launch. Congresswoman Tulsi gabbard clarifying the air in a tweet. I knew like me and my family, people were panicked. Reporter: That wasn't until 38 agonizing minutes after the initial warning. Officials retracting the threat with a state-wide public civil emergency message. There is no missile threat or danger to the state of Hawaii. False alarm. There's no question there has been an epic failure of both processes and leadership. Reporter: The governor explaining how this totally unacceptable mistake was a result of human error. It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system is working. And, an employee pushed the wrong button. Reporter: An almost end of the world experience when thousands of tourists in a paradise. Including these honeymooning newly weds. The Hyatt staff will instruct you to the lower levels of the hotel. Reporter: And as you can imagine, everyone is investigating how a simple push of a button can panic millions of Americans. Let's do to Washington and retired pa reen corps colonel

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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