An unusual message popped up on cell phone screens across Massachusetts Tuesday afternoon.

The "public safety alert" notified residents that 911 was down statewide.

"Delays in public safety response may occur," the message read. "Call local public safety business line directly if you or others are having an emergency. More information will be provided when available."

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State Police referred to the outage as "a technical issue," urging people who needed their assistance to call regional dispatches directly. For South Coast and the Cape and Islands, the number is  508-397-3192.

Phil Devitt/Townsquare Media
Phil Devitt/Townsquare Media

The problem was resolved within a couple of hours. Just before 4 p.m., State Police issued an update noting 911 service had been "restored."

There was still no explanation given for the disruption.

An updated alert asked that people call 911 only for emergencies and not to test the connection.

Earlier in the afternoon, Fall River and Mattapoisett were among the SouthCoast communities urging residents to call local public safety lines for help. Fall River Police said in a news release that it planned to increase evening staffing to minimize response time delays.

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