The Hong Kong government launched an emergency alert system (EAS) allowing it to send real-time messages to mobile subscribers during situations including extreme weather conditions or major public safety incidents.

In a statement, the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) said government departments can disseminate messages using the system to advise people to take contingency measures.

Messages can be classified as either emergency or extreme emergency depending on the severity of the incident.

OFCA said handset suppliers are gradually releasing updates of firmware or operating systems for various models to support the EAS, which uses cell broadcast technology.

A government representative recommended users download and install updates when available.

The agency noted subscribers will not be charged for receiving EAS messages and no personal data will be shared.

It added other channels including radio, TV and social media will continue to be used to send important information to the public, alongside the new EAS system.