Japan broadcaster mistakenly flashes missile alert

TOKYO, Japan – Japan's public broadcaster on Tuesday, January 16, mistakenly flashed that North Korea appeared to have launched a missile, warning people to take cover before apologizing for the error only minutes later.

A news alert saying: "It appears North Korea launched a missile... 'Evacuate inside buildings or underground': government" was published by the NHK website and app at 6:55 pm local time (0955 GMT).

But after just 5 minutes, NHK admitted the alert was sent in error.

"We're very sorry," NHK said on its website, without explaining further.

It comes just days after a false cellphone alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile terrified residents in Hawaii. 

Japan and North Korea have a tense relationship, with Pyongyang routinely issuing verbal threats as well as firing missiles near or above Japan.

"Don't scare me. It's good that (North Korea) didn't launch a missile," one Japanese Twitter user said.

"I was surprised but it was a mistake. Do your work, NHK!" urged another.

The mistake also comes less than two weeks after a fake earthquake alarm in Tokyo, where millions of residents received an alert warning them that a strong quake was about to hit the Japanese capital. 

In Hawaii, the notification was sent out on Saturday, lighting up phones with a disturbing alert urging people to "seek immediate shelter."

Emergency management officials later admitted "the wrong button was pushed" during a shift change. 

But it took nearly 40 minutes for a corrected message to be issued – with Hawaii's governor saying there was no automatic way to cancel the false alarm, meaning it had to be done manually. – Rappler.com