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How successful were Germany's 'warning day' alarms?

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How successful were Germany's 'warning day' alarms?
A Warntag alert in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

At around 11 am, mobile phones and sirens blared in Germany. On the nationwide 'Warntag', the aim was to check annually how many people would receive a warning in the event of an emergency.

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A test alarm set off mobile phones and sirens on the nationwide warning day in Germany. The warning was triggered by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) in Bonn shortly before 11 am on Thursday.

Many people received a warning on their mobile phones via a Cell Broadcast System, which means they were alerted even if they had not signed up to be.

The test alert was then also broadcast on radio and television stations and on city information boards.

READ ALSO: Warntag: What you need to know about Germany's 'Warning Day' on Thursday

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Anyone who opened the Deutschlandfunk app after 11 am, for example, also received the written notice there that "Warning Day 2023 is taking place in Germany today with a nationwide trial warning. There is no danger."

Those who have warning apps such as Nina or Katwarn installed on their smartphones also received a notice about the trial warning.

With Cell Broadcast, the warning goes to all mobile phones on a certain radio cell frequency. This means that tourists and other people with foreign mobile phone numbers who are currently in Germany were also reached.

On the other hand, anyone who had travelled abroad with their German SIM card only received a loud warning on Thursday if they had installed one of the German warning apps.

With the nationwide warning day, the BBK, which is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, wants to find out how many people could be reached in an emergency, be that during flooding or a military attack.

An online survey by the BBK, set to be released in the coming days, will help find out how many people were reached this time via which warning channel.

Germany tests the warning channels once a year, always on the second Thursday in September. As with last year's warning day, several people were annoyed that they could not hear any sirens at all.

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Sirens were dismantled or not renewed in many places after the end of the Cold War. In the meantime, however, efforts are being made to increase the number of sirens nationwide from the current minimum of 38,000.

As a precaution, Thuringia's state parliament interrupted its session for a few minutes because of the nationwide test alarm.

State parliament president Birgit Pommer explained the decision by saying that they did not want the shrill signals from the mobile phones of members of parliament, staff and spectators to disrupt the budget deliberations.

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