HAMNET Report 31 March 2019

Cyclone-ravaged Mozambique faces a “second disaster” from cholera and other diseases, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday, while relief operations pressed into rural areas where an unknown number of people remain without aid more than 10 days after the storm.

Some 1.8 million people in Mozambique need urgent help after Cyclone Idai, the United Nations said in an emergency appeal for $282 million for the next three months.

The death toll in Mozambique from the cyclone has risen to 468, according to Mozambican authorities cited by the Portuguese news agency Lusa. There are also 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi.

Cyclone Idai was “one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters in New York. He raised the spectre of hunger, saying the storm inundated Mozambique’s breadbasket on the eve of harvest.

The death toll remained at least 761 in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and authorities have warned it is “very preliminary.” More bodies will be found as floodwaters drain away.

Emergency responders raced to contain deadly diseases such as cholera, which authorities have said will break out as more than a quarter-million displaced people shelter in camps with little or no clear water and sanitation. Many wells were contaminated by the floods.

People are living in tent camps, schools, churches, roads and other impromptu places on higher ground. Many have little but their clothes, squatting over cooking fires and picking their way around stretches of increasingly dirty water or simply walking through it, resigned.

The World Health Organization said it is expecting a “spike” in malaria cases in Mozambique. The disease-carrying mosquitoes breed in standing water.

WHO also said 900,000 oral cholera vaccines were expected to arrive later this week. Cholera is caused by eating contaminated food or drinking water and can kill within hours. Cases of diarrhoea have been reported.

“We must not let these people suffer a second disaster through a serious disease outbreak or inability to access essential health services. They have suffered enough,” Dr. Djamila Cabral, the WHO Representative in Mozambique, told reporters in Geneva.

A field hospital was being set up in Beira and another is arriving later this week, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. A sanitation system to serve some 22,000 people has arrived and a water purification unit to serve some 25,000 people is expected to arrive on Wednesday, the organization said.

Thank you to Fox News for excerpts from their report.

Meanwhile, Caitlin Ryan, Emergency Communications officer for Doctors without Borders in Beira, has reported on the first confirmed cases of Cholera, as survivors are starting to drink whatever water they can find, contaminated or not. The challenge is to treat the patients who are seen at health centres, but also to stop the epidemic from spreading. Clean water to drink, and adequate and sanitary toilet facilities, are urgent requirements. More Cholera treatment centres are expected to be on line in the next few days. Caitlin Ryan expects Doctors without Borders’ medical response to the damage caused by Cyclone Idai to continue for at least six months.

And by yesterday the 30th, Medical Xpress announced that 271 cases of Cholera had been identified in Beira!.

Here’s news of another rescue on Table Mountain this week.

On Wednesday the 27th of March 2019 at 13h19,  Peninsula Wilderness Search and Rescue was activated after a caller had reported that a 57  year old German male had suffered an ankle injury while walking in the Table Mountain National Park.

The information received was that the patient was close to the upper section of the Platteklip Gorge route. The Metro Rescue Mobile Incident Command vehicle was dispatched to the Lower Cable Station where the crew made their way to the Upper Cable Station using the Cable Car. SANParks Visitor Safety Patrollers also responded.

The casualty was found on the Top Table section of Table Mountain, and on arrival at the scene, the Metro Medical Rescue Technicians treated the tourist for a severe ankle injury. He was then assisted to the Upper Cable Station where the rescuers and the patient were given a ride down to the Lower Cable Station in the Cable Car.

Once the team had reached the Tafelberg road, the patient was handed over to an awaiting ambulance which transported him to a medical facility for further treatment.

WSAR would like to commend the Table Mountain Aerial Company (TMAC) for their ongoing support and assistance.

In fact, there were five rescues around the Cape Peninsula over the previous long weekend, and four of them were satisfactorily concluded by means of helicopter extraction of the injured. While helicopter rescues costs much more than ground rescues, one can’t ignore the fact that helicopter extractions, if the weather allows them, are much faster, and likely to be in the better interests of the victim. I wonder whether air rescues will become the rule rather than the exception, as time goes by.

Now a feather in the cap for an amateur radio operator. WH6FTQ, Heather Flewelling, Dr Flewelling to her colleagues, is an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii. She is currently working on a programme called ATLAS, for Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System. This consists of two 500mm telescopes 160km apart which automatically scan the whole sky several times a night, looking for moving objects. Heather’s job title is “Planetary Defence Researcher”, and she looks for the near-earth asteroids that potentially might slam into earth in the future. So far Atlas has discovered 283 near-earth Asteroids, 31 potentially-hazardous Asteroids, 16 Comets and 3082 Supernovas.

One morning, while scanning the previous night’s work, she discovered a comet, with a tail, measured it for size, brightness and position, and reported it to the Minor Planet Centre. Subsequently, the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Centre named it “Comet Flewelling” in her honour on 21 March 2019.

Heather discovered amateur radio in 2018, rapidly got her licence, and has been operating VHF/UHF and SOTA  ever since.

Hats off to Heather!

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