HAMNET Report 14 October 2018

At the top of the EMCOMMS list this weekend is news of Hurricane Michael’s effect on the Southern United States.

The ARRL reports that an array of Amateur Radio public service assets was active as Hurricane Michael — now a tropical storm — made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle on October 10, with devastating 250 km/h winds. The storm is believed to be the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned of life-threatening storm surges as well as hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall.

The Hurricane Watch Net activated on October 10th and closed operations the following day.

WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Centre, was active to receive observed weather information and data via Amateur Radio to aid forecasters.

The VoIP Hurricane Net activated on October 10th  to support communication with the National Hurricane Centre.

The Southern Territory Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) stood down on October 11th. SATERN was requested to provide Amateur Radio operators for Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as some local units in Georgia, and at Divisional Headquarters in Atlanta.

The ARRL North Florida and West Central Florida sections assisted SATERN with additional operators in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa. North Florida Section ARES was at full activation.

Miller Norton, W4EMN, the Communications Watch Officer at the Duval County Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, was monitoring SARnet  — a UHF-linked repeater network in Florida — when he heard an urgent call for help that needed to be sent to the State EOC in Tallahassee. All other forms of communication were out, and Norton was able to relay the message via Amateur Radio. He also passed along messages and requests from the Jackson County EOC to the American Red Cross. Norton said officials in Tallahassee and Jackson County were both incredibly grateful for the way the SARnet system functioned during the weather emergency.

Jackson County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Whittington, KD4AST, was deployed to the county EOC in Marianna.

“We took a direct hit by the centre of the storm at 220 km/h,” he told Clay County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator and Public Information Officer Scott Roberts, KK4ECR. “[The] county maintenance building across the road from the EOC was picked up and slammed into the north side and over the roof of the EOC just prior to the eye passing over.”

The incident took out the HF antenna, which has since been restored. Whittington said the internet failed, as did cell service for a while. Hams have been passing material and resource orders to the State EOC via HF and SARnet. Whittington reported “total devastation of Bay, Jackson, and Gulf counties,” with loss of electrical power and water service, in addition to damage in Franklin, Holmes, and Leon counties. “[The] only mode of communications after the eye came across was ham radio, until we got minimal cell service a few hours ago,” he reported.

The ARRL Emergency Response Team has been coordinating with Field Organization leadership in ARRL Sections affected by the storm, as well as with WX4NHC, the HWN, VoIP Hurricane Net, Department of Homeland Security SHARES, and US Army MARS.

Thanks to the ARRL for the report.

As of Saturday afternoon, the death toll from Hurricane Michael stood at 14.

A message from Greg Mossop G0DUB of IARU Region 1 says that it is a busy weekend in the Region with two major exercises and at least one emergency happening.

In Oman Younis A41MA reports that as Tropical Storm Luban heads towards Oman and Yemen, the National Committee of Civil Defence has deployed resources to the South of the country ready to deal with the flooding predicted to hit the area. An initial four amateur radio volunteers are present to help provide links to any isolated locations. This operation is initially on VHF but HF is ready to be used if required. Storms in this area generally go under-reported but are just as severe as other disasters with the previous two tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea claiming nearly 300 lives.

In Spain, their ‘Field Day 2018‘ exercise took place yesterday ( 13th October ) with a focus on Net Control activities. HF was expected to be in use on 7110, 7145, 7175 and 14315kHz. Winlink and VHF/DMR was also to be used

Finally Radio Amateurs in Romania are participating in an European Community Exercise in their country. ModEx 2018 will call for the use of 3710 and 7130kHz along with VHF/DMR.

All exercises and actual emergencies should be expected to identify as ’emergency exercise’ or ‘exercise’ on the air. When these events are watched by representatives from our Administrations, it is important that Amateur Radio is seen positively, so please allow the operators room to operate.

And Jose Mendez EA9CD informed us yesterday about the start of that FIELD DAY 2018 in Spain, where there were several special stations on the bands on 20m, 40m  and on UHF, VHF and 6m, in addition to the DMR, C4FM and D-star modes. Links were also to be made via Winlink, and a Hamnet Network was deployed by EG5FD to provide data support. This exercise ended at 16h00 UTC last night.

And in the city of Palu on the island of Saluwesi in Indonesia, 2 weeks after the earthquake and tsunami, the “Save the Children” organization is still receiving 20 missing-children reports a day. These are children separated from their parents, or amongst the estimated 5000 people buried in the landslides mentioned in last week’s report, or children being looked for by concerned relatives other than parents, who are desperately hoping the children have survived, even though their parents are missing presumed dead.

The overall number of children still missing is believed to be in the thousands. It’s unclear how many are still alive. An unknown number of bodies remain buried beneath neighbourhoods where the soil liquefied after the quake.

Unidentified children live in tent cities in several aid stations for separated children that humanitarian groups have set up across Palu, the city closest to the earthquake’s epicentre, looked after by social workers and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund officials. The monumental task of reuniting families or managing orphaned children is going to take a long time. We can only applaud the wonderful dedication of these conscientious workers.

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

HAMNET Report 7 October 2018

NHK World reports that, a week after the twin disaster decimated the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia; the death toll continues to rise. Officials now blame the earthquake and tsunami for the deaths of more than 1,500 people.

Muslims gathered on the island of Sulawesi for Friday prayers where they mourned the dead and prayed that more people would be found alive. But emergency crews continue to pull more bodies from underneath the rubble. Officials say one of the dead was a South Korean man who was taking part in a paragliding event.

There is a huge need for first aid supplies. A hospital in one of the hardest-hit cities of Palu is flooded with patients. Doctors say they don’t have enough staff to deal with them. They also warn that many are at risk of infection. Complicating matters, some patients are afraid to be treated indoors after seeing so many buildings collapse.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake triggered a tsunami that wiped out thousands of homes and buildings. Indonesia’s authorities are working with Japanese experts to investigate the mechanisms of how the quake caused the deadly wave.

And NDTV reports that the city of Palu on Sulawesi island has been left in ruins after being hit by the 7.5 magnitude quake and the  wall of water, which flattened homes, ripped up trees and overturned cars.

After days of delays, international aid has finally started to arrive in the disaster zone, where the UN says almost 200,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Survivors have ransacked shops and supply trucks in the hunt for basic necessities, prompting security forces to round up dozens of suspected looters and warn that they will fire on thieves.

Authorities previously set a tentative deadline of Friday for finding anyone trapped under ruined buildings, although chances of pulling survivors alive from the rubble at such a late stage are almost zero. Local military spokesman Muhammad Thohir said that the death toll had risen to 1,558, up about 100 from the previous official figure.

Over 100 people are still unaccounted for, while hundreds of bodies have been buried in mass graves in a bid to avert a disease outbreak from corpses rotting in the tropical sun. Search efforts focused on eight key locations on Friday, including a beach and the Balaroa area where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth temporarily to mush.

About 20 planes carrying vital supplies such as tarpaulins, medical equipment and generators are now heading from all over the world to the disaster zone after a long delay. Indonesia was initially reluctant to accept outside help, insisting its own military could handle the response, but as the scale of the devastation became clear President Joko Widodo agreed to allow in foreign aid.

Governments from Australia to Britain are flying in supplies, the United Nations has pledged $15 million to the relief effort, and aid groups including Save the Children and the Red Cross are also on the ground.

Members of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society ORARI and other volunteers have been providing emergency communication for community and government interests. The quake and tsunami destroyed the city of Palu, completely cutting power and telecommunications.

New IARU Region 3 Disaster Communication Coordinator Dani Halim, YB2TJV, said Amateur Radio operators in Indonesia immediately responded to the unfolding disaster, establishing an emergency net on 7.110 MHz. Amateur Radio volunteers from other regions also pitched in to support radio communication for emergency news on 7.110 MHz and 7.065 MHz. Some radio amateurs with mobile stations have travelled to the affected region to help.

According to Budi Santoso, YF1AR, on Java Island, the local Palu ORARI representative Ronny Korompot, YB8PR, was among the first contacted. Through his mobile station, he reported on conditions, and the response, including evacuations. Sutrisno Sofingi, YB8NT, was also heard on 7.110 MHz using an emergency station he assembled at the disaster site. He said Amateur Radio was the only available communication with the outside world.

Amateur Radio also has assisted government agencies following severe damage to the telecommunication infrastructure. Hams operating on 2 meters were communicating information on which roads were open to allow traffic from the outside.

Halim reported that communication was established from the Luwuk Disaster Management Agency some 430 miles from the earthquake’s epicentre to obtain information on landslides and blocked roads and highways.

Salmin Sahidin, YB8IBD, in Southeast Sulawesi has been live streaming audio of the activity on 7.110 MHz via his Facebook page.

Thanks to the ARRL Letter for 4th October for these last remarks.

Here’s a story of an interesting experience. Dialogo, the Digital Military Magazine forum of the Americas, reports that Argentine and Chilean armed forces spent 10 days on the northern Antarctic Peninsula in a combined rescue exercise. The Argentine-Chilean Combined Antarctic Emergency and Rescue Patrol 2018 (PARACACH 2018, in Spanish) integrated army elements of both countries to improve response capabilities in rescue emergencies in Antarctica, August 20th-30th.

Under the coordination of the Antarctic Joint Command of the Argentine Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chilean Joint Chiefs of Staff, participants carried out Antarctic emergency operations, such as planning for search and rescue missions, navigation, injured recovery, and first-aid response. The patrol also walked over glaciers and frozen seas and coordinated radio communications.

The objective was to assess and increase military capabilities in Antarctic rescue operations. PARACACH 2018 also aimed at strengthening cooperation and bonds of friendship between both nations to face emergency situations in the inhospitable white continent. The patrol consisted of 14 members of both nations and 13 snowmobiles, each with sleds, and operated under temperatures of -20 deg C, and strong freezing winds. Wow – sooner them than me, I can hear you say!

HAMNET takes this opportunity to wish all RAE candidates everything of the best for the exam this coming Saturday. We look forward to seeing news of success soon on the SARL website, and invite all new radio amateurs to consider linking up with the HAMNET Directors in their Divisions, and joining the emergency communications arm of the SARL, to offer their services in case of need in the community around them. Details are available on the HAMNET page of the SARL website. We look forward to hearing from you.

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