As residents in the US state of Hawaii deal with the after effects of a traumatic mistake, one man's experience left him close to death. Sean Shields, 51, began vomiting and called his children to say goodbye as he suffered a major heart attack in the moment after the false missile alert was sent out to Hawaii's residents.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that after calling his children, one adult and one only 10-years-old, Shields managed to drive himself to to a health centre where he collapsed.

His girlfriend, Brenda Reichel, told the paper that had to undergo emergency surgery but is recovering in hospital.

The accidental missile alert "took him over the edge", Reichel said, adding: "what they did was harmful" and saying that her boyfriend's doctors had agreed the stress of the incident likely brought on the heart attack.

An attorney said they would look into whether the couple could file a claim against the authorities.

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono said that the false warning, caused by simple human error, "had the potential for being totally catastrophic" while the state's governor, David Ige appointed a military official to oversee a review of the process.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) similarly announced an investigation into the incident on Saturday 13 January where Hawaii residents received a text message reading: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill." It was over half an hour before authorities to send out a correction.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: "False alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies."