Whew!

Four alarming minutes

"Urgent. All stations. This is an attack warning. . . Take appropriate action."

At 11:14 a.m. last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania emergency management agency in Harrisburg relayed that message to 44 county civil defense agencies. A conscientious civil defense worker in Lehigh County set off the nuclear-attack sirens and was about to contact the Emergency Broadcast System, which warns localities of a nuclear attack, when at 11:18 a.m. he received another message: "Disregard."

The warning was accidentally sent out by two Harrisburg AT&T technicians who were installing new emergency teletype equipment. Most...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!