HAMNET Report 11 March 2018

Our neighbour Mozambique was struck by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Thursday the 8th, at 10h49 our time. The quake struck at a depth of 6.4km in an area not far from the Malawian border in Zambezia province, exposing a population of about 16000 people in the area to danger. So far, we have not heard of any serious loss of life or injury, but the area is remote and communications sparse.

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, one of the 80 or so aftershocks I mentioned in last week’s bulletin was a 6.7 magnitude shock that left another 18 people dead or injured. This adds to the death toll of over a hundred lives lost last week.

The original quake and subsequent aftershocks were centred in the country’s remote Highlands Region, and a complete picture of the scope of the destruction has been slow to emerge, says a report in the New York Times of 7 March.

“Loss of family houses is spread across the province,” said a report by the Hela Council of Churches. “Many families are sleeping together in temporary camps under canvases.”

The report added that health clinics, water supplies and gardens that residents depend on for food were all damaged in last week’s earthquake.

“Citizens have become traumatized,” the report said. “People are confused and frightened and many more are refusing to return to their own houses.”

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross said as many as 143,000 people could have been affected by the earthquake, with 17,000 displaced from their homes.

William Powi, governor of Southern Highlands Province, told the Associated Press that collapsed homes and landslides had killed at least 39 people in his province, and the blockage of feeder roads was impeding recovery efforts.

“It is beyond the capacity of the provincial government to cope with the magnitude of destruction and devastation,” he said. “Our people are traumatized and finding it difficult to cope.”

Papua New Guinea, which comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and several smaller islands, has eight million people who mostly live in rural areas. It is one of the least developed countries in the region, and the lack of road and communication networks across its mountainous central region has slowed the disaster response, officials said.

“The rugged terrain and loss of communications in the area impacted means it is taking time to build a complete picture of the damage but we know that tens of thousands of people are reported as requiring humanitarian assistance,” Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, said in a statement on Monday.

A well-known amateur radio personality in America, Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, is this year’s recipient of the Hamvention Awards Committee “Amateur of the Year” award.

Valerie was first licensed in 2006 and has been very active in local Amateur Radio clubs and in ARES. Once she “discovered” HF, she became obsessed with DXing and contesting. In the past few years, she has enjoyed inviting new hams to her station to DX or contest. She has been the pilot or lead pilot for four major DXpeditions.

Hotzfeld is a co-host of the netcast “Ham Nation” and has created several how-to videos on YouTube for the ham radio community. She also enjoys giving presentations on various topics via Skype to Amateur Radio clubs across the US.

She is currently the treasurer for her contest club and the prize chairman for W9DXCC and SMC-fest. In 2017, she became very active in public service, travelling to Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to help rescue small animals. She was subsequently deployed to Puerto Rico with the American Red Cross for 3 weeks as part of a group of volunteer Amateur Radio operators, facilitating critical communications after Hurricane Maria. Hotzfeld has said that Amateur Radio has enriched her life because of the challenges and great friends the hobby brings. Thanks to the ARRL News for these notes.

Our congratulations to Valerie – she is a deserving winner! You can watch her insert on Ham Nation every week on You Tube.

Incidentally, her partner, Jerry Rosalius, WB9Z, was one of the Bouvet Island DX’ers pictured in Cape Town after the ship brought them all back after the unsuccessful expedition. Visit his QRZ page if you want to see their antenna farm!

Friday and Saturday saw HAMNET KZN assisting at the Tour Natal Rally on the North Coast, as mentioned last week. We’re hoping the weather was acceptable, that the rally went off without mishap, Keith, and that you will send us a short report of the event for inclusion in next week’s bulletin?

And today sees about 35000 cyclists exploring the Cape Peninsula in the Cape Town Cycle Tour. After last year’s disastrous start, which saw the race called off because of the windstorm at the start, which prevented riders from even getting on to their bicycles, the start has been moved this year to the roads near the Grand Parade, which will prevent the wind tunnel effect experienced last year! Hamnet is partially involved in the communications for this race, and we are aware of some Hamnet members actually riding it. We hope to have some news of this one for you next week too.

From then on, HAMNET Western Cape will concentrate on the Two Oceans Marathon, over the Easter weekend. The Organisers of that race are extremely up-to-date, and everything has been thought of already. Our team has helped to supervise this race for 19 years now, so we are fairly used to it too. Let’s see if the Western Cape will live up to its reputation for raining over the Easter weekend, for which it is notorious. We down here don’t know whether we will be glad or sad if it rains that weekend. Either way, the race will probably go on!

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