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Mistaken alert sends residents into panic

The emergency alert that was sent out across the state was meant only to notify Salem about water contamination.

Posted: May 29, 2018 11:20 PM
Updated: May 29, 2018 11:50 PM

SALEM, Ore. -- People across the state received an emergency alert on their cell phones and televisions around 8:30 p.m. telling them to prepare for action. It said there was a civil emergency in the area.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office tweeted less than 15 minutes later saying there is no civil emergency, and that the message was only meant to notify those in Salem about contaminated drinking water.

The city of Salem says low levels of toxins were discovered in its drinking water during routine testing. Officials say children under 6 years old, people with compromised immune systems, pets, pregnant or nursing women, and those on dialysis should not drink the water until further notice. That applies to the city of Salem, the city of Turner, the Suburban East Salem Water District, and the Orchard Heights Water Association.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management issued a statement blaming the alert on a glitch in their system. They said: "This was a technology issue which O.E.M. is currently working to learn how and why it happened."

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