At 8am local time, residents of Hawaii received an alert on their phones warning of a ballistic missile threat.
Many locals and tourists, including Kiwis, believed they had just minutes to find shelter from an oncoming missile.
The message, which was written all in capitals, read: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII.
"SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL".
Fortunately, it was just "a hell of a mistake".
But Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has slammed US President Donald Trump over his North Korea failings following the Hawaii missile panic, accusing him of playing with the lives of Hawaiians and Americans.
"I was immediately told that the alert was sent out mistakenly, it was an inadvertent alert message, and that there was no ballistic missile heading to Hawaii," Gabbard told CNN.
"So I immediately got on Twitter, got on the phone, started getting the message out as quickly as possible to the people in Hawaii, who literally were going through this thought process of 'I've got 15 minutes to seek shelter from an incoming ballistic missile. What do I do? How do I protect my family? Where do I go?'
"This points to what the people of Hawaii went through, what my family and so many families in Hawaii just went through, it is a true realisation they have 15 minutes to find some form of shelter or they are going to be dead. Gone."
The alert set off panic across the American state, with people evacuating to basements and many fearing they were about to die.
Kiwi woman Dee Whitby told how there were people in tears, and how she texted her children to say she loved them.
Whitby, who has been at Hilo for an orchid conference, said guests were asked to stay in their room for around 40 minutes.
"There were people crying in the corridors. We stayed calm but texted we love you messages to our children just in case."
At the Waikiki hotel where she has been staying with her girlfriend and her family, Natalie Kane made her way down to the lobby after getting the alarm.
She was told that, if it was real, they would have to take cover, although there was nowhere to find it, so she should return to her hotel room and stay away from the windows.
There were children crying, adults "freaking out", and families running back from the beach to find their loved ones.
"One man was in the bath tub with his daughter and family praying."
Congresswoman Gabbard fired up following the false alarm, pointing the finger at Trump and US leaders for letting the North Korean situation escalate to near boiling point.
She told CNN the country and the world had been failed by Trump and his administration.
"This is a threat that's not only facing Hawaii, but this country," Gabbard said
"And if they had gone through what our families in Hawaii just went through, they would be angry, like I am.
"Our leaders have failed us. Donald Trump is not taking this seriously.
"We have to get rid of nuclear threat from North Korea. We have to achieve peace, not play politics, because this is literally life and death that is at stake for the people of Hawaii and the people of this country.
"The talk that needs to be happening is between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. The United States and North Korea to de-escalate and to denuclearise and get rid of this nuclear threat."
Hawaiian Governor David Ige has apologised for the "pain and confusion" caused by false ballistic missile attack alert, AP reports.
The false alarm came just days after one of Kim Jong-un's top officials said North Korea's weapons would be specifically aimed at the US, and not at South Korea, Russia or China.