East Cape Hamnet/MCSA/Airforce Rescue Exercise

The Air Force helicopters used during the Search and Rescue exercise last year

The Air Force helicopters used during the Search and Rescue exercise last year

Following on from the helicopter training this time last year, Hamnet Eastern Cape have been asked to assist once again.

This will be the second time the exercise is being held and will once again take the form of a mountain rescue exercise in the Groendal wilderness area just outside Port Elizabeth.

Hamnet will be providing portable repeaters and radio comms training to the mountain club rescue sticks.  As such, each radio operator will be a fundamental member of the rescue party.  Fortunately, one way or another, several of our Hamnet members are quite at home in the mountains.

The exercise will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 November 2016.  Contact Andrew Gray for more details.

A JOC will be setup and hamnet members will accompany MCSA members on various tactical exercises.  Air support from the Airforce will add excitement.

Currently on the list to assist are: Andrew Gray ZS2G, Gert ZS2GS, Colin ZR2CRS and Dave ZS2DH.  We will be camping over in the wilderness area on Saturday night.

Hamnet members to please bring their own equipment (including camp gear to overnight) and please take note of the safety equipment required: Safety glasses, ear plugs, a harness and a helmet.

WSAR Comms & Nav exercise & Unresponsive Patient Rescue

On the 15 Oct 2016 members of the various WSAR affiliated groups attended a communication and navigation training exercise in the Helderberg region (Somerset West). This exercise was arranged and managed by Delta Search & Rescue in association with EMS (Winelands).

The exercise was controlled from the Metro 4 incident command vehicle (bus), and manned by Delta Search & Rescue, EMS personnel as well as by Matt (ZS1MTF) & Phil (ZS1VCC). Ground teams comprised 4×4 operators and on-foot rescuers (incl. K9s). Basic instructions and maps were provided to the ground teams at a briefing, but each team was purposefully not given a full set of instructions for their tasks. This necessitated each team to check in with Control and to be given precise instructions and coordinates for selected tasks over the radio network. This was to simulate a real search & rescue with multiple field teams over a wide area, and to assess the effectiveness of communications and the passing of critical messages in this environment.

During the later stages of the training exercise, Metro 4 received a real rescue callout (in the Helderberg region) from Metro Control. An elderly patient, whom was hiking with a group, was unresponsive and assistance was requested. All teams on training were asked to standby while the incident commander and his team assessed the situation and set in motion the rescue procedure. Some of the nearby training teams were asked to respond whist an ILS medic and Skymed was dispatched. The patient was assessed by the ILS medic and his status was unfortunately “blue” (suspected heart attack). Skymed 1 was used to extract the patient and transported him to an landing zone near Metro 4 (in the Helderberg Nature Reserve). The various necessary services were dispatched to receive the patient upon Skymed’s arrival. A few members of the WSAR training exercise, which had assisted in the rescue, were tasked with accompanying the remainder of the hiking group off the mountain and down to Metro 4.


The training exercise was concluded shortly after the rescue, and it was considered a successful event. Many salient points were raised and much was learned from the exercise. The exercise was saddened by the unfortunate outcome of the rescue; especially as it happened in such close proximity to the training event, and that there was little our teams could do to change the outcome.

helderberg-training-oct16_01 helderberg-training-oct16_02 helderberg-training-oct16_03 helderberg-training-oct16_05 helderberg-training-oct16_06 helderberg-training-oct16_07

REPORT 30 October 2016

In a final wrap-up of news of Typhoon Haima of the previous week, Chinese news agencies have announced that 1.7 million people in Guangdong province were in the path of Haima when it struck the mainland. 668 thousand people were evacuated to safety, 2749 houses were destroyed, about 178 thousand hectares of agricultural land were washed away, and economic damage amounted to about $517 million. Clearing up and structural repair is clearly not going to be finished anytime soon.

Italy has also been affected again by natural disaster. Yahoo News reports that thousands of people fled their homes in a panic as a series of strong quakes struck central Italy on Wednesday night, the same area devastated by an August trembler that killed nearly 300 people.

A magnitude 5.5 quake first struck on Wednesday evening at 7:10 p.m. local time near the town of Sellano, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. Just over two hours later, at 9:18 p.m., a second, stronger 6.1 magnitude quake rattled the same area, this time centered near the town of Visso.

Thousands of people remained out of doors through the night, many in their cars, as a series of seven aftershocks of magnitude 4 or greater — all clustered around the same area — kept the ground trembling in the hours that followed.

“Many houses collapsed,” the mayor of hard-hit Ussita, Marco Rinaldi, told Sky TG24. “The facade of the church collapsed. By now I have felt many earthquakes. This is the strongest of my life. It was something terrible.”

A 73-year-old man died of a heart attack, possibly brought on by the quakes, local authorities told the ANSA news agency. And on Thursday, two more magnitude 4 shocks struck the same area. Alberto IK1YLO reported that RNRE (Italy’s equivalent of HAMNET) had three mobile units from Rome, Castel di Sangro and Tortoreto on standby to provide communications if needed. Fortunately, there were only minor power outages, and local cell systems had short interruptions. Alberto says that the general area has experienced thousands of small shakes since the original earthquake in August. Repairs are very far from complete.

News of exercises abound. Marc Lerchs ON3IBZ is working as communication officer for the Governor of Brabant Wallon, Belgium, who ordered an exercise to test communications between different strategic points inside and outside the province of Brabant Wallon. The repeater ON0BW played an important role in this exercise. Some people of B-EARS (which is Belgium’s emergency communications unit) were involved in this exercise. Every participant knew when he had to be where. Apparently, this exercise was to be limited to test communications, by exchanging the necessary reports. Thanks to Claude ON7TK for the Belgian news.

On the 26th and 27th of October, Canadian military units and amateur radio operators who are members of MARS and CFARS, were involved in Exercise Noble Skywave, an annual HF communications exercise. The purpose of the exercise was to ensure that military units were able to communicate effectively over HF – whether in North America or abroad, and to foster the spirit of friendly competition amongst their allies in MARS and CFARS, managed by radio amateurs. New radio equipment made by Harris was made available to the Canadian Forces, and these were used for the first time during the exercise.
Slovenia was also due to hold an earthquake exercise in the Gorenjska Region yesterday. Tilen Cestnik announced to IARU Region One emergency communicators that the regional and national emcomm teams would be activated for Exercise Aron 2016.

“Communication between regional teams and the national EmComm team will be through Winlink (Packet, Winmor and Pactor) as they will have to send requests for equipment and lists of people. Levels from regional down, will mostly use VHF/UHF, maybe packet radio and SSB on 3605 KHz. This exercise will go along with our Civil Protection Exercise in which real rescue teams are involved. Rescue teams from Austria will also cooperate”, said Cestnik.

Large sections of the higher 100kHz of our 40 metre band are being jammed by pirate signals emanating from a radio war between Radio Eritrea and Radio Ethiopia. Radio Ethiopia is attempting to jam the signals from Radio Eritrea on about 7145 and 7175kHz. Neither of these frequencies are available to either country, as they are frequencies reserved for amateur radio in all three IARU Regions. This does not seem to worry the radio stations. The jamming signals are reported by the IARU monitoring service to be 20 kHz wide, and are almost completely blanking out the part of our 40 metre band above 7100kHz . German, Austrian and Swiss telecommunications regulators have been informed, so that they can all file official complaints. Thank you to the IARU Monitoring System for these notes.

HAMNET would like to congratulate the nearly one hundred new radio amateurs who passed their RA Exams and were issued their new call signs this week, and welcome them to the bands. We hope they will rapidly take their place amongst the willing HAMNET volunteers in all regions of our country, and appeal to all senior radio amateurs, whether members of HAMNET or not, to make them feel welcome, and be the good “Elmers” you had when you all started out!

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

REPORT 23 October 2016

The second IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop was held October 11, 2016 in Viñadel Mar, Chile in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 XIX General Assembly. The event featured speakers on topics that relate to international issues facing Amateur Radio’s response to emergencies and disasters. The discussion, both inside and outside the workshop, focused on the themes discussed in the first workshop as well as new focus areas to address in IARU Region 2. Topics covered the use of Winlink, SATERN support for Salvation Army disaster response, the role of the ITU, developing operator and communications skills, AREDN mesh networking technology for disaster response, and emergency communications response in Venezuela.
Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, provided an overview of emergency communications activities in IARU Region 2 since the last workshop in 2013. Mike Corey, KI1U, briefed attendees on the findings from the 2013 Emergency Communications Workshop in Cancun. The availability of platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype, and similar virtual meeting programs make it possible to connect those in IARU Region 2 involved with Amateur Radio emergency communications. This could allow for coordination, training, and preparedness networking. Additionally it may provide a means for youth participation in virtual emergency communications workshops. Traditional means of Amateur Radio communication, such as voice and CW, are vital to our ability to provide emergency communications in IARU Region 2. We must encourage the development of operator skills through on air activity and continued training. Additionally, due to new and emerging communications needs, we must encourage the wide use of new technologies – radio email such as Winlink, mesh networking protocols like that presented by AREDN, weak signal modes, and improved health and welfare messaging – to meet the needs of served agencies. The IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators will explore the possibility of an online emergency communications resource library to be made available to IARU Region 2 member societies and Amateur Radio emergency communications enthusiasts.

Thank you to the Southgate Amateur Radio News for this précis of the IARU report.

Now, from Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman of the IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee, comes news that the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) was ready for JOTA last weekend but also keeping a watch on Typhoon Sarika with its winds and rainfall posing a threat. The Jamboree On The Air event had a group of 35 hams to support the opening ceremony, as adverse weather appeared. During the initial drama the frequency of 7.110 MHz was used as Typhoon Sarika with its winds and rainfall made its presence known in the area of Luzon Island.

No sooner had it passed than it was replaced by Haima, that increased in intensity with winds gusting to over 300 kph. Roberto Vicencio DU1VHY reports that HERO was ready as Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines forcing thousands to flee. The HERO net had 130 stations giving weather, power and flooding reports.

Other ham groups like the United Methodist Amateur Radio Club sent members led by DV1YIN, to travel north to the province of Isabela. The team of DV1YIN, DW1YMJ and DV1XWK made it to Santiago City, Isabela, after an eight hour drive and established HF radio contact. They advised that power had been cut and that phone coverage was intermittent.

Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rains, flooding towns and forcing thousands to flee to emergency shelters, and killing at least seven people.

Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Matthew and Nicole in the Atlantic, and Typhoons Sarika and Haima in the Pacific, the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today reminded policy and lawmakers of the vital role satellites play in providing communications and other important services following a natural disaster. Because satellite networks operate far above the earth’s surface, they are not vulnerable to damage by storms. Therefore satellite communications may often be the only way government and emergency first responders can communicate, track critical emergency assets and access valuable post-disaster imagery when terrestrial networks are damaged and are simply unavailable.

“Because satellite communications provide an unparalleled level of reliability and ubiquity, it is critical for government relief agencies, private enterprise and even consumers to consider satellite communications and other services when providing warning to the public or planning for emergencies such as a hurricane,” said Tom Stroup, President of the Satellite Industry Association. Because of this reliability, many satellite companies already have long standing relationships with a number of Government organizations both in the United States and around the globe. These relationships help to ensure that first responders and relief workers have access to vital communications and information wherever and whenever they are needed.”

The availability of reliable mobile satellite voice and data services for relief agencies and first responders following a natural disaster is already well documented. The use of satellite imagery and remote sensing data is also quickly becoming a key part to disaster response.

At 7 minutes past 7 our time on Friday morning, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Kurayoshi, in the Tottori prefecture of Japan, at a depth of 10km, and potentially affecting three million people within 100km of the epicentre. Houses were collapsed, and power outages reported, but apparently no widespread damage. People staying in evacuation shelters were supplied by local government with blankets and food. A tsunami warning was not issued.

And Oudtshoorn and surrounds had their own mini-earthquake this week, when a magnitude 3.5 shock struck at about 8.45 local time on Wednesday, just as tourists were about to enter the Kango Caves. Of course, further groups were prevented from entering the caves until authorities had confirmed that no structural damage had occurred to make the caves unsafe. I’m not sure I would have been keen to enter the caves later that day even if they had been pronounced safe! So far, no further shocks in the area have been reported.

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

REPORT 16 October 2016

Hurricane Matthew has left a legacy of death and destruction in the Caribbean, and coastal United States. North and South Carolina were declared disaster areas this week, to enable financial assistance to be given. The twenty or so lives lost occurred due to drowning, electrocution, suffocation and crush injuries from falling masonry or trees.

After the longest activation in its more than 50-year history, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) secured operations for Hurricane Matthew on October 9 at 0400 UTC. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, reported that the net was in continuous operation for 6 days, 7 hours, gathering real-time ground-truth weather data as the storm passed through the Caribbean and up along the US Eastern Seaboard, and passing the data along to WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Centre. Various Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) nets also activated along the East Coast. The first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season and, at one point, a Category 5 storm, Matthew was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone as it headed out into the Atlantic.

“Many have perished in Haiti and Cuba as a result of Matthew, and the death-toll rises still,” Graves noted. “Many residents in the Bahamas and the US East Coast states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina felt the impact of Matthew as well.” More than 30 died in the US. FEMA reports that power remained out for thousands of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina residents as of October 13. Cell service also was affected.

The VoIP SKYWARN/Hurricane Net attracted a number of visitors, according to net managers. “On board Saturday afternoon, in addition to WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Centre, stations representing a number of FEMA regional offices and the National Response Coordination Centre monitored the net for actionable intelligence to be used to plan recovery operations,” said net Public Affairs Officer Lloyd Colston, KC5FM. The net also activated on October 13.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network, or SATERN, was also active for Matthew on 14.265MHz, handling outbound emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic from hurricane-affected areas.

Among activities in South Carolina, ARES volunteers staffed evacuation shelters, with radio amateurs coming from outside the affected areas to help. “Overall, I believe the radio operators that were available for the event did an outstanding job and I am proud to know them,” said South Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Joe Markey, AJ4QM.

The Hurricane Watch Net activated again for several hours on October 13 for Hurricane Nicole, after a hurricane warning went into effect for Bermuda. The NHC at one point called Hurricane Nicole an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 125 MPH. The VoIP Hurricane Net also activated to monitor online weather stations and storm bloggers from the Caribbean Hurricane Network as well as social media. Fortunately, Nicole abated without coming ashore.

“While we do hope this is the last hurricane for this season, let us not forget we are still in Hurricane Season,” the HWN’s Graves said. The Atlantic Hurricane Season ends on November 1.

Thank you to the ARRL Letter of 13 October for these details.

However, over the Philippines, Tropical Cyclone SARIKA-16   is starting to make its presence felt. With wind-speeds of up to 270kph, it has barrelled across the Northern half of the Philippines, and is headed for China as I write this, with 19 million people threatened by the high winds. And hot on its heels is Cyclone HAIMA-16 slightly more to the North, but following the same North-Westerly direction, and about a day behind SARIKA. So far, it has not had an effect on people and property.

The Jamboree On The Air, or JOTA event is on the air today. I am aware of many scout group stations being on the air around the country. Of course, CQ Hou Koers is also on the go, but it seems to me that the solar weather is not playing ball, and I wonder whether long-distance communications are a success. There was a geomagnetic storm in process yesterday, with K index hovering at 4 to 5, making HF bands unfriendly. Scout and Voortrekker members are a wonderful incubator group, from which to cultivate new amateurs and HAMNET members of the future, so I hope you are either assisting at a JOTA station, or else looking around the bands, and making contacts with whoever you can hear, promoting an interesting and worthwhile hobby, and perhaps a career for some young people.

The Tsogo Sun Amashova Cycle Race is taking place today, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Ten HAMNET members are situated at various strategic points, using two repeaters and a simplex channel. Unfortunately the situation amongst students in University towns like Pietermaritzburg means that the organisers and riders have been advised to choose their routes to the start carefully, avoiding troubled main roads. I hope we can report a safe and successful race, next week. Thank you to Keith ZS5WFD for keeping me in the loop.

In an attempt to attract the Radio Amateur Exam candidates, who will be writing on Thursday evening, to the world of emergency communications and HAMNET, I have been interacting with them as a group, sending them information and encouragement. While looking through available links and sites on the internet, I came across a blog called NewHams.info, posted by Jim Peisker, AF5NP. This blog is full of short takes on so many things which older and more experienced hams take for granted, like how and why repeaters work, interference issues, antenna advice, and the likes. I still regard myself as a new ham, forgetting stuff as fast as I learn it, although I got my licence in 1993! My point is that this blog is for everyone, so, if you’ve got a query about some technical issue, and are not sure where to look it up, go to http://NewHams.info and look at the categories down the right hand side of the page. There are bound to be some answers there to your queries.

My very best wishes to the prospective new hams writing the exam on the 20th.

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

REPORT 9 October 2016

There is a lot of news coming out of HAMNET KZN, by courtesy of Keith Howes ZS5WFD, Regional Director there. In news of recent events, he mentions the display he and Glenn ZS5GD put on at the annual Flame Lily Fete last Saturday in Queensburgh. A picture shows a display of a wide range of ex military sets for the enjoyment of the ex-military retired persons at Flame Lily, and he says interest was high in spite of bad weather there.

Then, yesterday, at their meeting at the eThekwini Disaster Operations Centre, Keith gave a power point presentation originally prepared by Mike ZS5MD, showing the role and capabilities that HAMNET brings to the table. At the same meeting, they were allowed to view the new Disaster Management Communications Bus, currently being commissioned for Durban. The bus has not been formally presented yet, so photos are not available, but Keith says it is a fine example of state-of-the-art technology. We hope to get sight of that valuable asset to Disaster Management soon.

Keith further talks about the Amashovashova Cycle Race taking place on 16th October. Don’t you just love the imaginative names used to describe these sporting events? He and Glen ZWS5GD attended the final planning meeting last Tuesday, and they have submitted their operational plans. Ten HAMNET operators will be active there. Good luck for successful comms and a safe race, Keith!

He also mentions in passing the acquisition of Digital Mobile Radio, or DMR, equipment, which is going to be the way of the future in amateur radio. DMR is very strong in Europe and the United Sates, and the construction of the internet repeater backbone in this country is proceeding slowly. Division Five and Six already have these repeaters, but the rest of us are far behind. A DMR repeater is in the planning stage for the Western Cape, but at present there is virtually no activity here at all. Of course the repeaters are linked to the internet, which means you can be linked to any other repeater anywhere in the world, and develop friendships and enjoy communications with anybody using just your 5w handheld radio. You can also send data and pictures via your DMR connection. Thank you Keith for all that news. We encourage news reports of any sort or kind relative to emergency communications, sporting events, or the weather resulting in communications help being given by HAMNET members, from anywhere in the country, or neighbouring states. Please email such news to me at zs1dfr@telkomsa.net. I thank you.

For the rest, the eyes of the emergency communicators are on the Caribbean, where Hurricane Matthew has been wreaking havoc. I mentioned this storm last week sitting on the Southern side of the Bay of Mexico, and starting to move North. Well, as you probably have heard, it did just that, intensified to a category 4 hurricane with a huge diameter and therefore a wide path of damage, and swept across Haiti, where it exacted the most damage, on to Cuba, and then right up alongside the Florida Peninsula, and is now just off the coast of South Carolina with winds abating slightly from a maximum of nearly 250kph to about 170kph. Huge amounts of rain have been dumped in its path, and Saturday’s news says the death toll is highest in Haiti where about 900 persons are so far reported to have died as a result of collapse of buildings or flooding.

The National Hurricane Centre in Florida activates a Hurricane Watch net, which conveys news from ground based observers in the Caribbean, Central America, Eastern Mexico, Eastern Canada and all the coastal states of the US. The net operates in both English and Spanish, and is active on 14.325MHz USB during the day, and 7.268 MHZ LSB at night. In Cuba, the emergency nets are operating on 7.110 and 7.120 MHz by day, and 3.740 and 3.720 MHz at night. The Dominican Republic uses 7.065 MHz, so please be aware of these frequencies, and remember, that, though you can’t hear them, they may experience interference to emergency communications, because they can hear you! The Voice of America is also broadcasting Hurricane news on 7305kHz, 7405kHz and 9565kHz, all Amplitude Modulation, if you are tuning the short wave bands and want to listen out for them.

Reporters from the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network, or SATERN, say the storm briefly reached category 5 status on the 2nd of October, but abated again to a 4 status, with the winds of 225kph affecting a central swathe of 110km, and tropical storm strength winds extending 330km on either side of the central path. And apart from the wind, there is the rain to think about. Haiti experienced 15 to 20 inches, and 40 inches in isolated places, while Cuba and the Dominican Republic had up to 25 inches of rain! I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty comprehending weather of this magnitude. We can be very grateful that we don’t regularly experience such storms. I used to wonder why houses in the Northern Americas are mostly built of wood. Well partly because brickwork is too expensive, but also so that the houses can quickly be reconstructed if they get blown apart!

So, from South African communications point of view, monitor the frequencies mentioned by all means, but please don’t even think of raising your voice, unless it is clearly obvious that a distant relay is needed.

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

REPORT 2 October 2016

A new WHO air quality model confirms that 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits. “The new WHO model shows countries where the air pollution danger spots are, and provides a baseline for monitoring progress in combating it,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General at WHO.

It also represents the most detailed outdoor (or ambient) air pollution-related health data, by country, ever reported by WHO. The model is based on data derived from satellite measurements, air transport models and ground station monitors for more than 3000 locations, both rural and urban. It was developed by WHO in collaboration with the University of Bath, United Kingdom.

Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6% of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together.

Nearly ninety percent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly 2 out of 3 occurring in WHO’s South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.

Ninety-four per cent of air-pollution-related deaths are due to non-communicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections.

“Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations – women, children and the older adults,” adds Dr Bustreo. “For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last.”

Major sources of air pollution include inefficient modes of transport, household fuel and waste burning, coal-fired power plants, and industrial activities. However, not all air pollution originates from human activity. For example, air quality can also be influenced by dust storms, particularly in regions close to deserts.

The model has carefully calibrated data from satellite and ground stations to maximize reliability. National air pollution exposures were analysed against population and air pollution levels at a grid resolution of about 10 km x 10 km.

“This new model is a big step forward towards even more confident estimates of the huge global burden of more than 6 million deaths – 1 in 9 of total global deaths – from exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “More and more cities are monitoring air pollution now, satellite data is more comprehensive, and we are getting better at refining the related health estimates.”

“Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,” adds Dr Neira. “Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cooking-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions.”

In September 2015, world leaders set a target within the Sustainable Development Goals of substantially reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from air pollution by 2030.

In May 2016, WHO approved a new “road map” for accelerated action on air pollution and its causes. The roadmap calls upon the health sector to increase monitoring of air pollution locally, assess the health impacts, and to assume a greater leadership role in national policies that affect air pollution.

Thank you to the WHO Media Centre for this report.

Amateur Radio volunteers went on alert following an afternoon explosion on September 21 at a power station in Salinas that left some 1.5 million residents of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico without power. ARRL Public Information Coordinator Angel Santana, WP3GW, said that as the evening wore on, the most sought-after items were ice and potable water — which depend on electricity to power the pumps that deliver it. The outage also resulted in traffic jams due to non-functioning signal lights. The governor of Puerto Rico declared a State of Emergency.

“On the Amateur Radio side, the VHF/UHF linked repeater system of the Federación de Radio Aficionados de Puerto Rico (FRA), an ARRL-affiliated club, was the main source of information,” Santana told ARRL. “As soon as the situation began, lots of mobile and portable stations got on the air from east to west to report on the power loss, and ham radio was among the first to report the explosion, as smoke was observed soaring towards the sky.”

According to FEMA, the fire at the Salinas switching station caused the island-wide power generation plant to shut down as a safety precaution. FEMA said that all critical facilities operated on back-up generators, and airports, police stations, and water plants received priority as power was restored. The agency said telecommunications were operating normally. Thank you to the ARRL letter of 29 September for news of radio amateurs at work during national calamities.

Hot on the heels of Cyclone MEGI-16 last week, Cyclone CHABA-16 is proceeding North West and then North East bearing down on Japan, with maximum wind speeds of 167kph. More than three million people are threatened by winds of more than 120kph.

And in the Gulf of Mexico, Cyclone Matthew-16 with winds of at least 120kph is travelling due West, but expected to turn North and strike Jamaica and then the Bahamas in the next two days. Please stand by for requests from IARU Region Two for radio silence on their centre of emergency communications frequencies over the next days.

These reports come from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

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