IMAGE: Loudspeakers in Sydney
Tim Wimborne  /  Reuters
New outdoor loudspeakers are seen mounted on a light pole on a street in central Sydney on Wednesday.
updated 8/1/2007 5:06:03 AM ET 2007-08-01T09:06:03

Australia’s largest city has installed dozens of loudspeakers to tell residents what to do in a terrorist attack, an official said Wednesday.

Around 40 speakers should be operational in time for next month’s meeting of 21 world leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, New South Wales state Police Minister David Campbell said.

“If there were a terrorist event or a major building fire and there were people in the streets, this is a way of giving them information,” Campbell told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

A wailing siren would attract residents’ attention, followed by a police announcement directing people to evacuation points plotted around the downtown area.

Meanwhile, a senior police chief involved in planning for September’s APEC summit said authorities could order office workers to remain inside their buildings if a bomb were to explode nearby.

Superintendent Greg Rolph acknowledged public fears about possible building collapses in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but said staying inside offices was usually the safest option.

The move comes just weeks after Sydney’s city council urged locals to prepare survival bags — including maps, first-aid supplies, important documents, spare change and an extra set of keys — in case of emergency.

Critics accused the council of unnecessarily stoking fear among Sydney residents and ridiculed some of the recommended measures — such as packing toilet paper and stuffing pet cats into pillow cases for evacuation.

Australia, a close ally of the United States and its global fight against terrorism, has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly warned that Australia could become the target of a terrorist attack, though there is no intelligence information that one is imminent.

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