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False tsunami warning jolts West Coast, Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska >> Some Alaskans got a jolt when they heard an emergency radio and television broadcast indicating the entire West Coast, from San Diego to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, was under a tsunami threat.

Only at the end of the nearly two-minute long message sent early this morning did it indicate the alert was a test.

The National Tsunami Warning Center said there is no tsunami threat. Lois Varnado, with the tsunami warning center, said the matter was being investigated.

The message comes just months after a civil defense official in Hawaii mistakenly sent an alert indicating a missile was inbound to the islands, prompting changes in how such alerts were issued. The employee who sent the false alert was fired.

A real tsunami warning in Alaska earlier this year included alerts sent to cellphones, something that didn’t happen today.

Rosemary Dunn in Anchorage, said she was more curious than panicked when the warning came through.

“I couldn’t find any earthquakes and was really perplexed,” she said.

She went online to find out that the warning wasn’t real.

“They said it was misinterpreted. I’d really like to know what’s behind that, who misinterpreted that,” she said.

The tsunami center says it issued a routine test message at 7 a.m. that is sent to several agencies. She said this message was “misinterpreted by at least one entity as an official tsunami warning,” but didn’t indicate who that was. Messages left with the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management about the alert weren’t immediately returned

Typically, the message says it’s a test at the beginning. It’s not clear why the version heard by Alaskans didn’t say it was a test until the end.

The warning center told KTVA warning sirens may be going off in coastal areas.

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