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Kur patverties militāra iebrukuma gadījumā?

Jēkabpils checks to see if it has any bomb shelters

Rīga is not the only city in Latvia reassessing its civil defense capacities, reports Latvian Televsion.

Other local authorities are developing plans for how to react in case of disaster or military invasion, including identifying places where residents might be able to take shelter. 

Less than a year ago, some residents of Jēkabpils had to evacuate due to catastrophic floods, which made problems with current arrngements apparent, while Russia's war in Ukraine has obviously also contributed to concentrating minds.

Most of the shelters built in the Soviet times in Jēkabpils have been privatized. One substantial and relatively modern bomb shelter near a nursing home belongs to the municipality. Terēze Grīviņa, the manager of the housekeeping department of the nursing home, knows the shelter well, having been there both in the times when visiting members of the nomenklatura had meals there, and in the times when it served as place to store potatoes.

"This is where the Cabinet was meant to be. There was a [place] for ministers' secretaries and assistants. But it wasn't used. It was not possible to set it up. They visited here, looked around," Grīviņa recalled.

On the other hand, Jēkabpils county deputy and civil defense engineer Ilmārs Luksts (Regional Alliance/Vienotība) said: "This shelter was built for the government for a scenario in which, if there is an attack on Riga, then they would retreat to the east. It is clear that the current scenario is the opposite – the aggressor country is in the east."

In case of a military attack, the civil defense system in Latvia is not fully ready, the Saeima recently acknowledged. The possible solutions are various: existing underground car parks can be adapted, for example. But new shelters will also have to be built.

State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) deputy head Ivars Nakurts said that such shelters are needed "which will protect against explosions, shock waves or shrapnel, or attacks of a miltary nature, including radiation."

When building new apartment buildings, office buildings, or supermarkets, a requirement to include a shelter in the basement could be included.

Nakurts pointed out that if there is such a demand, estimates of construction costs will have to be made. The experience of neighboring countries suggests that it could increase the total construction costs from between 10% and 50%.

But the Jēkabpils floods showed another thing to contend with – the reluctance of people to leave their homes even when in clear danger.

"In a crisis situation, we saw that there were categories of residents who were not ready to leave their homes until the very end. Then, when they were ready to leave, it was difficult," Luksts said.

This year in Jēkabpils, 150 municipal employees have been trained in how to act if they have to leave their homes or encourage other residents to leave their homes. Next year, it is planned to continue such seminars in other municipalities as well.

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