Estonian Rescue Board creating evacuation plans for cities

Parking. Source: Pixabay

An evacuation plan for Estonia's cities is being created by the Rescue Board and local governments should areas become uninhabitable. The agency believes a network of early warning sirens and marked shelters should be made.

The Rescue Board wants the plan to be completed by summer. It is the state agency's responsibility to create guidelines regarding evacuations from densely populated areas.

Deputy Director General of the Rescue Board Tauno Suurkivi said people will be informed once the plan has been finalized. Bomb shelters are also being mapped.

Soviet-era bomb shelters left over from the Cold War still exist in Estonia but many have been repurposed, for example, one is now a film archive. The agency said many are unmarked and people have not been told how to behave in the event of a military attack on Estonia.

A plan was drawn up by the Government Office in 2018 which saw shelters mapped in densely populated areas and discussions held about changing laws. However, they were never put into practice due to the coronavirus pandemic and other crises. 

Suurkivi said while there are no security threats in Estonia, the situation in Ukraine means discussions need to be had. "[T]o change the legal environment so that we can create a network of public shelters," he said.

The 2018 plan estimated it would cost €2 million to create a public shelter network. This is needed because, even though it would be recommended to stay indoors, away from windows and in a basement, people in public places would still need somewhere to go.

In Viimsi, close to Tallinn, it is being discussed if private underground car parks could be used.

Karin Mägi, the head of the supervisory department of Viimsi rural municipality government, an app is being created to show safe places.

"Every person can then click on a red star and see where the shelter is, how many people can fit in the shelter and where it is located," she told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday.

These include underground car parks but the Soviet-era missile base on Viimsi peninsula, where nuclear warheads were held, would also be a suitable place.

The Rescue Board also believes a network of airstrike warning sirens should be set up in larger cities. This would cost up to €7 million for 10 to 15 cities and should be connected to airspace monitoring stations.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and the Police and Board Guard Board (PPA) have said there is no threat to Estonia at the moment.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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