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Alaska Gets Tsunami Warning by Mistake

A tsunami warning which was automatically sent to television and radio stations throughout Alaska Monday morning was issued in error, the National Weather Service said.

"It went out by mistake — there is no danger of tsunami anywhere," said B.J. Bennekamper, a meteorologist in the service' Anchorage forecast office.

The message, which went directly from the weather service to Alaska broadcasters, only contained a tsunami warning header.

If it were a real emergency, Bennekamper said meteorologists would have added actual text into the body of the message, outlining which areas of the state would have been covered by the warning.

The Weather Service later sent a correction.

Media outlets across the state were taken by surprise with the warning.

Bennekamper said the weather service received phone calls from stations from Fairbanks to Juneau when the tsunami warning was not followed by any further information.

"Every phone in the place started ringing," said Ed Bennett, assignment editor for KTUU television in Anchorage. "We had between 30 to 50 phones calls in the newsroom and an equal number at the front office in a 15 minute period."

It was not immediately clear how the automatic warning was issued, except technicians were working on a computer and showing a new intern how warnings are issued.

"He says no one sent anything, you couldn't set it off without going through three of four steps, it might have been glitch in the machine," Bennekamper said. "We're still trying to figure out why it went out."

"We apologize," he added. "If it's got to be a mistake, better this way than having a real event and not sending a warning."

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