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Taiwan expands Wan An air raid drill simulating Chinese attack

People in designated districts of Taiwan's 22 counties, cities must enter real air raid shelters during drill

Students crouch and cover their heads with their backpacks during a combined air raid/earthquake disaster preparedness drill at Taipei Munic...

Students crouch and cover their heads with their backpacks during a combined air raid/earthquake disaster preparedness drill at Taipei Munic... (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A drill simulating a Chinese air attack will be expanded with members of the public in select districts of Taiwan's counties and major cities required to enter air raid shelters during the exercise, which will be held in four regions from July 24-27.

The Wan An No. 46 Exercises (萬安46號演習) will be held in northern Taiwan from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on July 24. The drill will then be held at the same time, on July 25 in southern Taiwan, July 26 in Eastern Taiwan and outlying islands, and July 27 in central Taiwan, said the Ministry of National Defense (MND) at a press conference on Tuesday (July 11).

Unlike in previous years, the drills will be expanded to include an administrative sector (township, city, or district) in each of Taiwan's 22 counties and cities, where even stricter measures will be enforced. In those areas, drivers must immediately park, and, along with pedestrians, must follow police instructions and enter the nearest air raid shelter.

For example, in Taipei City, the designated area for drivers and pedestrians to enter air raid shelters is Neihu District, while in New Taipei City it is Tamsui District. For Taoyuan, the designated area is Taoyuan District, in Taichung City it is Fengyuan District, and in Tainan City, it is Anping District.

Also differing from previous years, after the air raid sirens end at 2 p.m., local governments are responsible for conducting another half hour of drills. These will take stock of accommodations, water, electricity, and supplies within shelter and relief stations that were set up in coordination with charities, organizations, and volunteers for disaster victims.

The air raid drill will be conducted by the civil defense control centers of the local government police stations and will be supplemented by early warnings through TV stations, radio stations, and the broadcasting systems of villages, schools, and police patrol cars. At the same time, the "Aerial Threat Warning System" will be used to send text messages to mobile phones that will include links containing the URLs for the location of air defense evacuation and refuge facilities.

The exercise is divided into the following four regions:

North Taiwan: July 24

Taipei City, New Taipei City, Yilan County, Keelung City, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu City, and Hsinchu County

South Taiwan: July 25

Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County

East Taiwan, outlying islands: July 26

Hualien County, Taitung County, Penghu County, Kinmen County, and Lienchiang County

Central Taiwan: July 27

Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Nantou County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, and Chiayi County

The first Wan An drill was held in 1978 after Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) was made president by the National Assembly. Due to increased concerns over Taiwan's safety after being removed from the U.N. in 1971, Chiang initiated an air raid preparedness drill for citizens to "prepare for danger in times of peace" and dubbed it the "Mega Peace Exercise" (萬安演習).

The drill has continued for 45 years. In compliance with the National Defense Act and provisions of the National Defense Mobilization Preparation Act, the Wan An exercises are mainly meant to verify mobile combat capabilities and evacuate the streets to allow for traffic controls and air-raid siren tests to enhance national emergency response capabilities.

During the exercise, all vehicles must pull to the side of the road, occupants must exit their vehicles, and motorists must heed the directions of police or civil defense personnel. Taipei MRT trains will continue to run during the exercise, but arriving passengers must remain inside the stations until the drill has ended.

Pedestrians and motorists who fail to follow instructions and clear the streets during the half-hour exercise may be fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 (US$958) to US$4,700).

Taiwan expands Wan An air raid drill simulating Chinese attack
(Taiwan News image)