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Radio stations in Guam accidentally broadcast an emergency civil danger warning on Tuesday, prompting residents of the U.S. pacific territory to fear the worst after a week of military threats from North Korea.
The two radio stations, a music channel and a Christian network, broadcast an emergency message over Guam's airwaves at around 12.15 a.m. this morning. The unspecified warning lasted approximately 15 minutes.
Typically, civil danger warnings are rarely broadcast as they are used to alert residents of imminent danger, such as a military strike or terrorist attack. Officials emphasized later that a real emergency message of this nature would describe the nature of the threat.
"The unauthorized test was not connected to any emergency, threat or warning," Guam's homeland security office said in a statement on Tuesday. The Office of Civil Defense added it had worked with the two stations "to ensure the human error will not occur again."
Last week, North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards Guam after an increasingly bitter war of words with Washington.
However, on Tuesday, Pyongyang appeared to back away from its previously sharp rhetoric. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was reported to have reviewed plans to fire missiles towards the territory before deciding to hold off for the time being, state media said.
Meanwhile, George Charfauros, Guam's homeland security advisor, called for residents and tourists to remain calm in spite of unconfirmed reports in the media.
"Remember there is no change in threat level, we continue business as usual and know there are U.S. Department of Defense capabilities in place," Charfauros said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We continue communication with our federal and military partners and have not received an official statement warranting any concern for imminent threat to Guam or the Marianas," he added.
Around 75 people gathered in Guam's capital city of Hagatna on Monday evening local time to call for peace. The territory is home to around 162,000 people and houses two military bases.