But 38 minutes later, US officials sent another message saying that the text was a false alarm.
Ige wrote on Twitter that a probe is already underway in the state, involving Hawaii's Department of Defense and the the island's Emergency Management Agency.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (IG'-eh) says he's meeting with officials this morning to find out what happened after an alert was mistakenly sent to residents saying a ballistic missile was inbound for Hawaii.
With just minutes to prepare for the worst, those in Hawaii did the best they could to brace themselves for the threat of an imminent missile impact.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Hawaii Emergency Management agency tweeted that the alert was false within 15 minutes of it being sent out around 8 a.m., but cellphone screenshots show a delay of almost 40 minutes between the original alert and another declaring it to be a false alarm.
That warning was issued around 8 a.m. He said the whole state was terrified and there needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.
A Hawaii EMA spokesman also told BuzzFeed News that they were in the process of sending another message to cancel the initial alert.
After the alert was declared an error, many decried the fact that such an incredible error was allowed to happen.
North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country's growing missile weapon capability against the USA territory of Guam or US states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang, including "fire and fury". In those minutes, people in Hawaii, fearing for their lives, sought shelter and contacted their loved ones.
As state officials quickly worked to address the mistake, the White House released a statement in which it appeared to distance itself from the situation in Hawaii. The message that came through cellphones said it was not a drill. The Federal Communications Commission is "launching a full investigation of what happened", according to spokesperson Brian Hart. "Repeat. False alarm", the message said. Part of that education campaign was a monthly test of the Cold War-era attack warning siren.
Last month, the Star-Advertiser also reported that a missile launched from North Korea could strike Hawaii within 20 minutes of launch.