HONOLULU — The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the state of Hawaii didn’t need federal approval to retract a cellphone alert mistakenly sent over the weekend warning of a ballistic missile attack.

Hawaii has had the authority to cancel or retract warnings since 2012, when it applied for access to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, FEMA said in a statement.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza said Tuesday that his agency asked FEMA for clarification Saturday about whether rescinding an alert was an appropriate use of the warning system.

Hawaii officials have said the process was one factor that delayed their retraction. Another was writing the cancellation notice, since a retraction script was not kept on file. The Hawaii agency didn’t send a retraction until 38 minutes after the initial alert.

Rapoza said officials weren’t clear on whether they could use the system to cancel the first alert. “We didn’t want to pile one mistake on top of another,” Rapoza said.

Officials said a state employee clicked the wrong link and activated a real alert instead of an internal test when the mistaken message was distributed.

Hawaii is the only state that is set up to send cellphone alerts about the threat of an incoming ballistic missile. It’s had the ability to do so since November, Rapoza said.

Hawaii is the only state that has siren alerts that will be sounded specifically to warn of a ballistic missile threat. Hawaii started testing those last month.

The state set up the ballistic missile warning infrastructure after North Korea demonstrated that its ballistic missiles had the range to reach the islands.

Hawaii is home to key military bases and command centers, making it rich with potential targets for adversaries.

On Monday, Gov. David Ige appointed a state Army National Guard official to oversee a review of Hawaii’s emergency management process in response to the error.

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