HAMNET Report 30 December 2018

Reporting on Christmas Eve, ARRL News said that radio amateurs in Indonesia’s Banten Province were in position to support any necessary emergency communications in the wake of a “stealth tsunami” on December 22, that struck without warning. Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency concluded that a volcanic eruption triggered a landslide underwater at Anak Krakatau.

The tsunami struck in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean. Rescue and relief activities are under way. The death toll was expected to top 400, and many people were reported to be still missing. Fatalities occurred in the Pandeglang, South Lampung, and Serang regions of Indonesia. Some 1,500 people were reported injured.

IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Coordinator Dani Hidayat YB2TJV, said ORARI, Indonesia’s IARU member-society, would use 7.110 MHz for any relief and recovery communication. An ORARI CORE emergency team used a VHF repeater for regional communication.

ORARI reported that the LAPAN A2 satellite (IO-86) was being pressed into service for emergency communication purposes during the relief and recovery effort. IO-86 should not be used at this time for non-emergency traffic.

“ORARI Daerah Banten, immediately deployed the CORE ORARI Banten team to Cilegon and Serang where the disaster occurred to help the existing volunteer team,” said a report on the ORARI website.

“The disaster management agency warned that the death toll is likely to rise further,” Hidayat said. Some believe that high seas resulting from the full moon may have contributed to the force  of the waves. The disaster management agency said hundreds of buildings were damaged. Thousands of people were left homeless when the waves smashed homes on coastal areas of western Java and southern Sumatra.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday with more than 1500 injured, and at least 128 still missing. Military troops, government personnel and volunteers were searching along debris-strewn beaches. Where victims were found, body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

Express.co.uk says that a potential complete collapse of the Anak Krakatau volcano could trigger an unprecedented tsunami “at any moment” amid growing panic in Indonesia, which is still reeling from the first tsunami which killed more than 400 people last Saturday.

The threat level in Indonesia has been raised to its second highest, mandating a three-mile wide no-fly zone over the volcano.

Air traffic control AirNav said in a statement: “All flights are rerouted due to Krakatoa volcano ash on red alert.”

Scientists are concerned that the Anak Krakatau volcano could completely collapse – unleashing an unprecedented tsunami “without any notice”. Rosemarie North, from the Red Cross, told NBC News: “If the volcano collapses, you will not get much warning at all.”

The disaster last Saturday also took place without any earthquake activity beforehand. Indonesia is prone to natural disasters due to its location on what is called the Ring of Fire. The volatile region sits along plate tectonics underwater, causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Phys.org reports that the Indonesian volcano lost more than two-thirds of its height following the eruption which triggered the killer waves.

A section of Anak Krakatau’s crater collapsed after an eruption and slid into the ocean, generating the tsunami last Saturday night.

A visual analysis by the Indonesian volcanology agency found the volcano has lost more than two-thirds of its height, an official said Saturday.

Anak Krakatau which used to stand 338 metres high was now just 110 metres tall.

The agency estimated the volcano lost between 150 and 180 million cubic metres of material as massive amounts of rock and ash have been slowly sliding into the sea following a series of eruptions.

“Anak Krakatau is now much shorter, usually you can see the peak from the observatory post, now you can’t,” Wawan Irawan, a senior official at the agency, told AFP.

Before and after satellite images taken by Japan’s space agency showed that a two square kilometre chunk of the volcanic island had collapsed into the water.

The volcano, whose name means Child of Krakatoa, was a new island that emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, whose massive 1883 eruption killed at least 36,000 people.

Exactly a week later, that is yesterday, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck off the coast of the Southern end of Philippines, not far from last week’s undersea landslide and tsunami, and at a depth of 60 km. A tsunami warning was immediately announced, but by midday, the warning had been lifted. Only about 20,000 people live within 100km of the epicentre, so quake damage will be little. We hope there will not be a lot of major aftershocks.

Now, in an indirect way, I read of some good news this week. A Vancouver Canada company called  Indro Corp has developed a $70,000 handheld radio frequency pulse rifle designed to immobilize drones.

The Chief Technology Officer for the company, Philip Reece (unfortunately no relation of mine), says that the Drone chaos at Gatwick airport last week emphasises the need for a regulated defence strategy.

He says the main stumbling block to widespread use of the jammer is regulatory. He notes that Industry Standards regulate who is allowed to use the devices, which would make a huge difference if deployed around an airport like Gatwick.

Gatwick was closed between 19 and 21 December due to numerous drone sightings in the area, affecting 140,000 passengers and delaying over 1000 flights.

Thank you to Jane Stephenson writing in the Toronto Sun for this article.

Let’s hope it won’t take long to sort out regulations in all countries, and that our little airports can also be protected against such stupid behaviour.

Once again, it is my pleasure, on behalf of HAMNET South Africa to wish all our readers and listeners a very happy and prosperous 2019, with good health and success in all you endeavour! May all your signals always be 5 and 9!

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