Fear. Alarm. And tears. For 38 minutes, Hawaii thought it was under attack

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - People huddled in their bathtubs. They ran into businesses or rushed into basements. They got into storm drains.

For nearly 40 minutes on Saturday, Hawaii's 1.4 million residents thought they were under ballistic missile attack — and they did everything they could to try to get to safety.

At 8:07 a.m., this alert went out to all Hawaii cell phones: "Missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter."

It took city and military officials about 15 minutes to confirm the message was sent in error.

And it wasn't until 8:43 a.m. that an all clear message was sent to Hawaii phones, 38 minutes after the first message sounded.

In that time, many sought any shelter that they could find while others called loved ones, crying — and fearing it might be the last time they spoke.

"People were running ... they were all desperate," said Waikiki resident Vinicius Pereira. 

Adnan Mesiwala, a visitor, said he and his family was on the 36th floor of a hotel when they got the alert.

"We were actually terrified, and we didn't know what to do," he said. "We were kind of frantic. We put the baby in the bathroom and didn't know what else to do. My wife was in tears."

He added, "With the political climate that we are in today, there needs to be not only accountability but there has to be people thinking forward in terms of how their action will cause a response."

At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, panicked students ran across the campus, looking for any cover they could find.

One video on social media showed an adult putting children into a storm drain; other social media images showed residents huddling in bathtubs.

"When we got the alert, we were obviously very scared," said Heather Dygert, who was at home with her husband and two young girls when the alert went out. "We immediately got our emergency supplies and came into the bathroom. Water, a lantern, first aid kit, food and a radio and just kept our phones on and waited to see what happened."

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