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.