At 08:00 this morning (25 April), loud sirens blared out across Ulaanbaatar and thousands of people flooded out to special safe areas dotted across the city. In a huge drill, the population of the Mongolian capital had to enact what they would do if an earthquake struck the city.
This major training exercise on disaster preparedness and response was organized by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). In total, nearly 420,000 people attended the training in 111 safe areas across the city. The exercise started with the sirens and finished at 09.30 a.m.
During the training, all roads in the city were closed; traffic only began to move again at 09.30 a.m. Today, official working hours started an hour later than normal – from 10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
This was the first major exercise of its kind in the Mongolian capital since 1990.
The recent increase in seismic activity in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar, has raised genuine concerns as to how the city would cope if a major quake was to strike.