REPORT 30 October 2016

In a final wrap-up of news of Typhoon Haima of the previous week, Chinese news agencies have announced that 1.7 million people in Guangdong province were in the path of Haima when it struck the mainland. 668 thousand people were evacuated to safety, 2749 houses were destroyed, about 178 thousand hectares of agricultural land were washed away, and economic damage amounted to about $517 million. Clearing up and structural repair is clearly not going to be finished anytime soon.

Italy has also been affected again by natural disaster. Yahoo News reports that thousands of people fled their homes in a panic as a series of strong quakes struck central Italy on Wednesday night, the same area devastated by an August trembler that killed nearly 300 people.

A magnitude 5.5 quake first struck on Wednesday evening at 7:10 p.m. local time near the town of Sellano, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. Just over two hours later, at 9:18 p.m., a second, stronger 6.1 magnitude quake rattled the same area, this time centered near the town of Visso.

Thousands of people remained out of doors through the night, many in their cars, as a series of seven aftershocks of magnitude 4 or greater — all clustered around the same area — kept the ground trembling in the hours that followed.

“Many houses collapsed,” the mayor of hard-hit Ussita, Marco Rinaldi, told Sky TG24. “The facade of the church collapsed. By now I have felt many earthquakes. This is the strongest of my life. It was something terrible.”

A 73-year-old man died of a heart attack, possibly brought on by the quakes, local authorities told the ANSA news agency. And on Thursday, two more magnitude 4 shocks struck the same area. Alberto IK1YLO reported that RNRE (Italy’s equivalent of HAMNET) had three mobile units from Rome, Castel di Sangro and Tortoreto on standby to provide communications if needed. Fortunately, there were only minor power outages, and local cell systems had short interruptions. Alberto says that the general area has experienced thousands of small shakes since the original earthquake in August. Repairs are very far from complete.

News of exercises abound. Marc Lerchs ON3IBZ is working as communication officer for the Governor of Brabant Wallon, Belgium, who ordered an exercise to test communications between different strategic points inside and outside the province of Brabant Wallon. The repeater ON0BW played an important role in this exercise. Some people of B-EARS (which is Belgium’s emergency communications unit) were involved in this exercise. Every participant knew when he had to be where. Apparently, this exercise was to be limited to test communications, by exchanging the necessary reports. Thanks to Claude ON7TK for the Belgian news.

On the 26th and 27th of October, Canadian military units and amateur radio operators who are members of MARS and CFARS, were involved in Exercise Noble Skywave, an annual HF communications exercise. The purpose of the exercise was to ensure that military units were able to communicate effectively over HF – whether in North America or abroad, and to foster the spirit of friendly competition amongst their allies in MARS and CFARS, managed by radio amateurs. New radio equipment made by Harris was made available to the Canadian Forces, and these were used for the first time during the exercise.
Slovenia was also due to hold an earthquake exercise in the Gorenjska Region yesterday. Tilen Cestnik announced to IARU Region One emergency communicators that the regional and national emcomm teams would be activated for Exercise Aron 2016.

“Communication between regional teams and the national EmComm team will be through Winlink (Packet, Winmor and Pactor) as they will have to send requests for equipment and lists of people. Levels from regional down, will mostly use VHF/UHF, maybe packet radio and SSB on 3605 KHz. This exercise will go along with our Civil Protection Exercise in which real rescue teams are involved. Rescue teams from Austria will also cooperate”, said Cestnik.

Large sections of the higher 100kHz of our 40 metre band are being jammed by pirate signals emanating from a radio war between Radio Eritrea and Radio Ethiopia. Radio Ethiopia is attempting to jam the signals from Radio Eritrea on about 7145 and 7175kHz. Neither of these frequencies are available to either country, as they are frequencies reserved for amateur radio in all three IARU Regions. This does not seem to worry the radio stations. The jamming signals are reported by the IARU monitoring service to be 20 kHz wide, and are almost completely blanking out the part of our 40 metre band above 7100kHz . German, Austrian and Swiss telecommunications regulators have been informed, so that they can all file official complaints. Thank you to the IARU Monitoring System for these notes.

HAMNET would like to congratulate the nearly one hundred new radio amateurs who passed their RA Exams and were issued their new call signs this week, and welcome them to the bands. We hope they will rapidly take their place amongst the willing HAMNET volunteers in all regions of our country, and appeal to all senior radio amateurs, whether members of HAMNET or not, to make them feel welcome, and be the good “Elmers” you had when you all started out!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.