A test of the national ‘Emergency Alert System’ which was seen by television viewers this morning in states across the country prompted panic and confusion, with many taking to Twitter to express their concerns.
The test began at around 11am EST and was broadcast in Washington DC, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The emergency alert contained no details and merely listed the states it affected and said the alert would run from 11am until 12 midnight.
Viewers in Sacramento, CA also reported seeing the test, which lasted for about 10 minutes before the regular TV broadcast resumed. At no point were viewers advised that the alert was only a test.
Some said the alert made them panic.
Others also tweeted their confusion and nervousness at seeing the alert, with many noting that the message had frozen on screen.
Last October, an emergency alert from the White House interrupted TV viewers across America, advising them to stand by for an emergency message and not to use their phones.
AT&T blamed a “nationally syndicated radio station” for sending the alert message by mistake, despite the fact that only the federal government can send out EAS alerts. The alert system, “can only be activated by the President in times of emergency,” reported Fox 5.
The EAS is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS). Mandatory test messages are sent via broadcast and cable television as well as all radio outlets. A separate system was introduced in 2013 for cellphones.
Meanwhile, a test of the Amber alert system in Michigan awoke people with a text message from state police at 5am on Saturday morning, prompting some complaints. The 6-year-old girl in question was later found safe.
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