Georgians received an alarming test alert for a 'radiological hazard'
Many Georgians got a terrifying wake-up call Thursday morning after their phones received a test emergency alert notification about a radiological hazard.
When the alert alarm sounded around 8 a.m., residents picked up their phones to find a disconcerting message: "EAS Radiological Hazard Warning THIS IS A TEST."
The alert was sent by Georgia's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA), which tried to dispel residents' fears in a tweet.
"You may have received a **TEST** emergency alert this morning regarding a radiological emergency in Georgia," GEMA said. "We regularly test our emergency alert systems to ensure they are working properly and this was ... ONLY A TEST MESSAGE. There is no radiological emergency."
Still, some recipients expressed confusion and said the alert could have been more clear that it was just a test.
"I know I'm not the only one who had a mini heart attack when the 'EAS Radiological Hazard Warning' test went out moments ago," Billy Heath, a photojournalist for Atlanta news station FOX 5, wrote on Twitter. "I had to do a double take."
In a statement sent to CNN, GEMA recognized some residents were confused about the alert and said it was working to clarify the message.
"Although the message stated that it was a test, we are aware that there was confusion on the part of some," said spokeswoman Lisa Rodriguez-Presley. "We have since issued a cancellation message to ensure that the public is clear that this was a test message only."
According to the National Weather Service, a radiological hazard warning could be issued in a number of different circumstances, including the "theft of a radioactive isotope" or an "accident which may involve nuclear weapons, nuclear fuel, or radioactive wastes."
Thursday's notification was reminiscent of a false alarm that occurred early last year, when Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency accidentally sent out a notification warning residents and tourists of inbound ballistic missiles and told them to seek shelter.
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