Some residents in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village were startled Sunday evening to hear what sounded like an emergency alert being broadcast over a loudspeaker.
The alert warned of an imminent nuclear missile threat to Canada.
The Manitoba government tells Global News it did not issue any alerts Sunday night.
In audio recorded in the area, you can hear a loud siren, then a robotic-sounding voice warning of six nuclear missiles headed towards Canada and the United States.
“Due to the uncertain facts of these missiles, all Canadian residents should seek out a fallout shelter immediately,” it said.
It warns Canadian residents to seek shelter underground, to stay away from windows and to tune in to local media.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be speaking on all stations shortly,” the message continued.
“It definitely sounded very real in a lot of respects, especially with the reference to Prime Minister Trudeau and the specific actions to take and that kind of thing, and the actual use — unfortunately — of the actual Canadian alert attention signal,” Mike Olczyk, Operations Program Manager for Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, said.
Police confirmed the audio was taken from a YouTube video made in 2016. The description of the post encourages viewers to replay the prank video warning to fool people.
Jon Lovlin, managing editor of Global News Winnipeg, heard the warning outside shortly after 9 p.m.
“Everyone in the condo was out on their balconies with their phones. They’re talking to their loved ones and relatives saying, you know, ‘are you hearing anything about this? Am I the only one hearing about this?'”
“One woman was visibly shaken, saying, ‘should I head to the basement? Should I get out of here?’ She didn’t know what to do because that’s how real it sounded. It was very weird,” Lovlin said.
Winnipeg Police arrived in the area around 9:20 p.m. and the audio stopped shortly thereafter.
Const. Jay Murray said this was not part of any official alert system and was likely played through a home speaker system.
Murray said if they are able to track down the culprit, he or she could face charges of causing a disturbance.
“If anyone has information, contact us. Obviously, a very serious thing whenever you incite fear into anyone. It’s a very troublesome message, and we’d like to find out who did this.”
Olczyk said only the Emergency Measures Organization and Climate Change Canada are authorized users of the emergency alerting system in the province.
“For any notification that would go out, it would be key to watch to ensure it states in the alert that the message is coming from one of those two organizations.”
He said they broadcast their alerts over cable and satellite television, radio and, beginning this year, mobile devices. Not loudspeakers.
“The method that was employed last night… isn’t something that a government-authorized alerting authority would issue in that manner,” he said.