Estonia's first civil defense warning siren installed in Viljandi
Estonia's first civil defense warning siren was installed in Viljandi on Tuesday. A 22-city €4.5 million network will be created over the coming year.
The siren was installed on the roof of the fire and rescue command building in the central Estonian city.
Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shown the importance of protecting civilians.
"In the event of a military crisis, as well as other man-made and natural crises, basic capabilities for large-scale evacuation and sheltering are critical, which requires alerting people in the area of danger," he said at the unveiling.
Estonia has invested over €4.5 million in civilian defense this year, creating networks of both warning sirens and emergency shelters.
Läänemets said this is the biggest investment for 30 years but called for more to be done and said more ambitious targets need to be set.
He said these are held back by a lack of fixed funding, which is an election pledge for his party.
"Funding for sirens, for example, is only guaranteed for this year. Where will the money come from for their maintenance, inspections, expansion of installations — as things stand at the moment, you have to start applying for it from the state budget step by step," the minister said.
Sirens will be placed in all major cities, larger industrial and strategically important areas, and regional and rural centers. Testing will start in the autumn.
So far, these include Tallinn and its surroundings, Tartu, Narva, Pärnu, Võru, Paldisk, Sillamäe, Tapa, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Maardu, Muuga Harbor, Rakvere, Valka, Keila, Viljandi, Jõgeva, Põlva, Rapla, Kärdla, Kuressaarde, Haapsalu and Paide.
Over the past year, Estonia has marked and mapped emergency public shelters across the country, created an SMS messaging notification system, and a siren warning system.
The warning system will sound for military attacks, major accidents and emergency situations.
Listen to the siren here.
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Editor: Helen Wright