Warning of ballistic missile inbound to Hawaii a 'false alarm' - officials

Hawaii - Social media ignited Saturday after apparent screenshots of cell phone emergency alerts warning of a "ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii" began circulating, which US officials quickly dismissed as "false."

"Hawaii - this is a false alarm," wrote Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard on Twitter. "I have confirmed with officials there is no incoming missile."

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency also confirmed there is "NO missile threat to Hawaii."

The emergency alert that some cell phone users received read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

US military spokesperson David Benham said the US Pacific Command "has detected no ballistic missile threat to Hawaii. Earlier message was sent in error," adding that the US state would "send out a correction message as soon as possible".

The warning came across the Emergency Alert System, which authorities nationwide use to delivery vital emergency information to the public.

Top golfers at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Hawaii were among those caught up in the panic.

World number four and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas was among several players at the event in Honolulu who took to Twitter following the false alarm.

"To all that just received the warning along with me this morning... apparently it was a 'mistake' ?? hell of a mistake!!," Thomas wrote. "Haha glad to know we'll all be safe."

Journeyman player John Peterson, who is tied for second at the tournament, wrote on Twitter that he had taken evasive action following the warning.

"Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in laws," Peterson wrote. "Please lord let this bomb threat not be real."

In a separate tweet after confirmation that the alert was sent in error, Peterson wrote: "Man. How do you press the wrong button like that. COME ON MAN."

Irish professional Seamus Power was similarly perplexed.

"Not your normal emergency warning. Really hope it's just a drill," Power wrote.

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo was also spooked. "Just woke up here in Hawaii to this lovely text. Somebody can verify this?" he wrote.

J.J. Spaun, meanwhile, said he had taken cover in a hotel basement.

"In a basement under hotel. Barely any service. Can you send confirmed message over radio or tv," he said.

Honolulu-born LPGA star Michelle Wie was startled by the warning. "UM WHAT?!? This can't be real. Stay safe everyone in Hawaii," she wrote.

American professional Talor Gooch posted a screenshot of the warning, which was issued on the Emergency Alert System and flashed up on cell phones and televisions across the island state.

"Welp this was quite a 'mistake' made by someone," Gooch wrote. "Birdies didn't seem too important for a few minutes. Let's make sure this one doesn't happen again POTUS."

POTUS is an abbreviation for President of the United States, emphasising the plea from Gooch to US President Donald Trump amid tense US-North Korean relations.

It caused panic across the US island chain following months of soaring tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programme.

The North has been working towards developing a missile that can deliver an atomic warhead to US territory, heightening fears of potential attack.