HONOLULU (AP) — A false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii sent the islands into a panic Saturday, with people abandoning cars in a highway and preparing to flee their homes until officials said the cellphone alert was a mistake.

It wasn’t clear exactly what happened — House Speaker Scott Saiki said someone pushed the wrong button, and the White House said the episode was “purely a state exercise.”

But for nearly 40 minutes, it seemed like the world was about to end in Hawaii, an island paradise already jittery over the threat of nuclear-tipped missiles from North Korea.

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