VANCOUVER -- Emergency Management BC says an emergency alert test that caught British Columbians by surprise Wednesday afternoon was an accidental rebroadcast of the alert that was sent out last week.

Shortly after noon, cell phones across the province began buzzing with the test message, which was identical to the one sent out at 1:55 p.m. on May 5 for the biannual test of the national Alert Ready system.

In a tweet, Emergency Management BC acknowledged the repeat test, describing it as accidental and attributing it to "human error."

Last week's scheduled test was part of the regular testing of the four-year-old system. The tests are meant to assess how ready the system is in the event of an actual emergency.

Those behind the testing say it also helps identify any adjustments that need to be made.

To receive an emergency alert, your mobile phone must be connected to an LTE cellular network, turned on, and not in "do not disturb" or "airplane" mode.

It must have up-to-date software. Here's more on compatibility from Alert Ready