Russia to conduct emergency public warning tests on Wednesday

(Reuters) – Russia will conduct a nationwide test of its emergency public warning systems on Wednesday, letting sirens wail and interrupting television and radio broadcasts with security information.

“A large-scale audit of public warning systems at the regional and municipal levels will take place in all regions of Russia,” the Ministry of Emergency Situations said in a press release.

“The warning system is designed to timely convey a signal to the population in the event of a threat or emergency of a natural or man-made nature.”

The testing will start at 10:43 a.m. (0743 GMT) and last for one minute.

The test, first conducted in 2020, is part of a new initiative that requires authorities to conduct tests twice a year, starting from Sept. 1.

Separately, the United States is also conducting a large-scale test of its public warning systems on Wednesday, via U.S. mobile phones and TV and radio stations.

The purpose of the U.S. test is to ensure that the systems “continue to be effective in alerting the public to emergencies, particularly at the national level”, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, said in a press release.

Many other countries have also conducted alert system tests for crisis and disasters in recent years.

The Russian test falls on the 91st anniversary of the creation of Russia’s civil defence system and follows nationwide educational drills in August on practicing actions and procedures in emergency situations, Russian media reported.

The goal of Russia’s tests is to assess the warning systems, the readiness of personnel responsible for launching them and raise public awareness, the emergency ministry said.

“When you hear the sound of a siren, you need to remain calm and not panic, turn on the TV – any publicly accessible channel or radio – and listen to the information message,” the ministry said.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; editing by Robert Birsel)