The unnamed employee who mistakenly sent a missile alert which caused panic in the US state of Hawaii on Saturday has been temporarily reassigned to other duties, a US official has said. People across the state received text messages warning of an imminent attack. The US media regulator says the mistake was “absolutely unacceptable”.

Hawaii did not have “reasonable safeguards or process controls” in place to prevent the false alert, it said. The 38-minute delay in issuing the correction made it worse, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said.

The error occurred when, during a drill after a shift change, an employee made the wrong selection from a drop-down computer menu, picking the real-life missile alert instead of the test option, officials at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) said. To prevent a repeat, two employees are now required to activate the alert system – one to issue the warning and another to confirm it, they said.

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