Edmontonians vacationing in Hawaii woke up to a terrifying alarm on Saturday morning.

The state sent out an emergency alert to all cellphones across Hawaii just before 8:10 a.m. that read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

“The first thing I did was call my mom and I just told her that I loved her, and then she just tried to calm me down,” Stephanie Patel, who is vacationing in Maui, told CTV News Saturday afternoon via Skype.

Out in the Big Island, Shandrie Lewis and her family immediately feared for their lives.

“I thought it was the end; I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “We were just sitting here panicking.”

Government officials say the false alarm was caused by an employee pressing the wrong button during a shift change.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted there was no threat about 10 minutes after the initial cellphone alert.


“We’re grateful it was just a mistake, but at the same time, that’s a pretty big mistake,” Lewis said.

With files from Angela Jung and The Associated Press