HAMNET Report 27th February 2022

Teams from the Malagasy Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the eastern part of Madagascar are working around the clock to minimize the humanitarian impact of Tropical Cyclone Emnati.

Emnati made landfall on 22nd February in Central-Southern Madagascar, with maximum sustained wind speeds of up to 180 km/h. It was expected to cross Southern Madagascar later that day, affecting nearly 2.5 million people in its path. Thereafter it was expected to continue moving South over the Indian Ocean as a tropical storm.

At least 51 300 people have been affected, as reported by The National Bureau of Disaster Risk Management (BNGRC). According to the latest update, on 24 February, about 45 190 people had been displaced, as more than 12 680 houses were damaged or destroyed. Damages were also reported to 1 985 school buildings, affecting a number of students, while 16 road sections and one bridge were impassable. Aerial assessments by the Government and humanitarian partners have begun, with some areas—including Midongy du Sud—cut-off by flooding.

Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, the Secretary General of Malagasy Red Cross said:

“There is a risk of a double tragedy, as some communities were expected to be hit by a second cyclone in less than a month. Tropical Cyclone Emnati is likely to have a devastating effect on communities on the eastern coastline of Madagascar that are still reeling from the impact of Cyclone Batsirai. Many have lost their homes, crops and livestock. We are truly worried and call upon partners to increase their support and avert a humanitarian tragedy.”

Alina Atemnkeng, who is currently in Mananjary leading IFRC’s response following Cyclone Batsirai, as well as the preparedness efforts ahead of Emnati’s landfall, said:

“Malagasy Red Cross Society’s teams, IFRC teams and partners were on high alert and were deployed in communities, warning them of the approaching storm. Red Cross volunteers were sharing early warning messages with communities, preparing evacuation sites and helping communities to move to safer locations.”

Atemnkeng added: “As we respond, we need to think short-term and long-term at the same time: more cyclones will come, and we need to ensure that communities are adequately protected from the inevitable, subsequent storms. Given the overall challenges caused by climate change, we reiterate our call to governments, regional intergovernmental bodies and our partners to strengthen their investments in disaster risk reduction, with a particular focus on preparedness actions.”

Madagascar is one of the ten most vulnerable countries to disasters worldwide and faces compounding hazards. While the eastern parts are battling cyclones, the southern parts are experiencing severe drought leaving at least 1.3 million people in need of food assistance.

And Reuters reported that Tonga was re-connected to the world on Tuesday following repairs to a submarine cable, officials said, a month after a volcanic eruption and tsunami cut communications to the remote Pacific island nation.

Tongans have struggled with makeshift satellite services as the repairs to the cable were made.

The repair ship Reliance took 20 days to replace a 92-km section of the 827-km submarine fibre optic cable that connects Tonga to Fiji and other international networks.

Tonga Cable chief executive James Panuve thanked telecommunications companies in neighbouring Pacific islands, particularly New Caledonia, which provided lengths of cable when Tonga ran out.

The next job would be to repair the domestic cable connecting the main island of Tongatapu with outlying islands that were worst hit by the tsunami, which could take six to nine months, said Panuve.

A state of emergency was declared in Ukraine just prior to the Russian military invasion. Among other things, the February 24 decree from President Volodymyr Zelensky will remain in effect at least for 30 days and may be extended. As published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s unicameral legislative body, the state of emergency includes regulation of TV and radio activities and “a ban on the operation of amateur radio transmitters for personal and collective use”.

In some carefully worded messages from radio amateurs in Ukraine, they announced their total ban, and Poland amateurs, next door, announced their solidarity with the hams in Ukraine, many of whom have family living in Poland, and suggested they send messages to their relatives in Poland using the Winlink system. Polish hams provided Winlink node frequencies, and reminded all of the IARU Region One emergency frequencies of 3770 kHz, and 7110 kHz, if the internet were to be cut off.

From Indonesia, we learn that an earthquake of 6.2 M at a depth of 12 km occurred in northern West Sumatra Province on 25 February at 01:33 UTC. The epicentre was located approximately 14 km east of Talu village (West Pasaman Regency) and 66 km north-northwest of Bukittinggi City. The earthquake was also felt in Malaysia and Singapore.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency of Indonesia (BMKG), a foreshock of 5.2 M and two aftershocks of 5.0 and 5.1 M were recorded in the area. The USGS estimates that up to 6 000 people were exposed to very strong shaking and up to 199 000 to strong shaking.

According to media reports, at least two people died, and 20 others have been injured in West Pasaman Regency. In addition, widespread damage to buildings has been registered in the same Regency.

Finally some very good news for the HAMNET team in the Western Cape, because the venue we have always used for our monthly meetings at the Tygerberg Hospital Provincial Emergency Management Centre has been made available again to us for this week’s meeting, after two years of Covid regulations.

This means we can have a face-to-face meeting again, and our Regional Director, Michael, ZS1MJT hopes that all our regulars will turn out in full force again, and attend the meeting at 19h30 on Wednesday.

This does mean that there won’t be a HAMNET Western Cape radio bulletin on Wednesday evening, and we apologise to all our new listeners on Echolink from Division 5, who joined us last week for the news bulletin, because there will be no Echolink transmission on ZS1DCC-R on the 2nd of March.

I hope to see all your call signs again on Echolink on the 9th of March.

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