REPORT 18 September 2016

Roy Walsh ZS3RW has sent us some news from the Northern Cape regarding participation by HAMNET members at the recent Kuruman Show. Dylan Walsh ZS3DW and co-driver Roy took part in the 4×4 challenge, as did Gaffie Bruwer ZS3GAF. Dylan came first in his class, and Gaffie third in his. Rudi du Toit ZS3DT was also on hand. Some nice action photos accompany Roy’s report.

In midweek, Vryburg Hams, Patrick ZS3PS, Rudi ZS3DT, Josef ZS3DUP and RAE candidate Francois erected a 24 metre tower for a repeater at Komtiekie, 40km from Vryburg on the N14. Thank you to you all for spreading the extent of amateur radio’s reach.

A trend among groups of radio amateurs involved in emergency  communications is the use of disaster scenarios to test equipment and  learn lessons from what went right during an exercise, and what could be improved.

Recently a number of such tests have occurred in the Philippines, North  America, Europe and elsewhere. Every year emergency communication groups engage in GlobalSET, or a Simulated Emergency Test, with each IARU region having been involved since 2006. The GlobalSETs have tested the capabilities through message handling,  and in 2015 a preparedness or call-out exercise was held to measure the  immediate, short and medium term availability by radio amateurs should  an emergency occur.

When authorities and responding agencies test disaster preparedness,  many groups involved benefit greatly from the training provided and by  working together.

The latest is around October 8, and will be a North America-wide exercise, with emergency communications administered by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and Radio Amateurs Canada (RAC). The aims are to find the strengths and weaknesses of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the National Traffic System (NTS) and other  groups providing emergency communications. It will also provide a public demonstration to served agencies such as  Red Cross, and, through the news media, of the value to the public that  Amateur Radio brings, particularly in time of need.

Participating radio amateurs will gain experience using standard  procedures and a variety of transmission modes under simulated-emergency conditions.

Adding some external perspective is the involvement of some stations in  Europe who join in through the National Traffic System.

A number of agencies are working to develop emergency scenarios. Plans  may be for a simulated flood, serious fire, severe ice storm, a missing person, a major transportation accident, broken gas line, or any other imaginable disaster.

The International Amateur Radio Union will read the outcome of this and  other SETs, as it continues to advocate for the amateur service, and the  role served by having available volunteers, equipment, spectrum and  training.

Floods in North Korea that have left hundreds dead or missing are the “worst disaster” to hit the country since World War II, state media said on Wednesday.

The official KCNA news agency did not give exact numbers of those killed or unaccounted for, but a UN report said 138 people have died and 400 are missing after torrential rains caused devastation in the country’s far north.

The floods along the Tumen River, which partially marks the border with China and Russia, tore through villages, washing away buildings and leaving thousands in urgent need of food and shelter.

At least 29,800 homes were destroyed, and 68,900 people displaced by the flooding, while electricity and communications lines have been cut, and 180 sections of road and more than 60 bridges severely damaged.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System has posted a red alert in the seas between the Philippines, Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland for Tropical Cyclone Malakas-16, travelling at first North-West and bearing down on Taiwan, and then turning North East along the Chinese coast towards Japan. While sustained wind speeds are expected to be about 100kph, maximum projected wind speeds may reach 212kph! About 888000 people are in the path of its current trajectory.

But if you think 212kph is bad, spare a thought for the Japanese nation, who were subjected to Super-Typhoon Nancy in 1961, with maximum wind-speed of 345kph! 172 people died, 3184 were injured, 44000 houses were damaged or destroyed, while 280000 others were flooded. Nancy is credited with being the most powerful natural disaster phenomenon ever measured.

Two earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.1 and 5.8 have hit south eastern South Korea, These were the most powerful quakes to hit Korea since seismic records started in 1978. The Korea Meteorological Administration said the quakes were centred near Gyeongju city.

Government authorities have heightened the country’s emergency level to level two, which is the second highest, and ordered affiliated organizations to remain alert and follow the natural disaster manual. Among them was a thermal power plant and local industry leader Hyundai Motor in Ulsan, the southern neighbour city to Gyeongju.

At least 22 aftershocks with two to four magnitudes followed the big quakes.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), the country’s nuclear power operator, said its atomic power plants suffered no damage, but it turned off four nuclear reactors at the Wolsong nuclear power plant at around midnight for a safety inspection.

The ministry is now attempting to secure an exclusive network for disaster-related communications and to increase the government budget for earthquake-resistant facilities, he added. Nuclear reactors in the area were not seriously affected, but some reactors were taken offline as a precautionary measure late Monday night.

So far, there has been no news of major casualties, nor has amateur radio played any part in the two disasters suffered by North or South Korea.

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