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Why did Sweden's public warning siren sound last night?

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Why did Sweden's public warning siren sound last night?
One of the VMA sirens is pictured in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
11:05 CET+01:00
Residents of a town in central-southern Sweden got a shock late on Monday evening when they heard the country's emergency warning siren, and it's not yet clear what caused the alarm to sound.

'Hesa Fredrik' is a loud siren designed to warn the public of immediate danger such as natural disasters or even war.

But it's unclear why the siren went off without warning in Bankeryd, north of Jönköping, on Monday.

Police and emergency services received a large number of calls from worried residents who heard the alarm, and a technician was working to look into the problem on Tuesday.

The alarm is officially called a VMA siren (viktig meddelande till allmänheten or important message to the public) but gets the nickname Hesa Fredrik from a Dagens Nyheter columnist.

Live tests of the system occur on the first Monday of March, June, September and December at 3pm. At any other time, it is supposed to be a warning of danger to the public.

Back in 2017, Hesa Fredrik was sounded by mistake in Stockholm, startling the city's one million residents on a Sunday evening.

That time, human error was behind the false alarm, and police and Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) were criticized for being slow to release information as their websites went down due to large numbers of people searching for information.

Vocabulary

war – (ett) krig

unclear – oklar

emergency services – räddningstjänsten

by mistake – av misstag

to criticize – att kritisera

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Swedish by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find it useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

 
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