HAMNET Report 5 May 2019

From World Vision come reports of Cyclone Fani-19, which formed as a tropical depression in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra. The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii first tracked the developing storm on April 26. As it drifted west, it began to strengthen, and, from April 30, it has been an extremely severe cyclonic storm, the first of the 2019 season.

Cyclone Fani made landfall on the Bay of Bengal coast of India about 8 a.m. local time on Friday, May 3. The storm hit Puri city in Odisha state with heavy rain and wind speeds exceeding 130 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. More than a million people in India were evacuated from the coastal zone.

The cyclone tracked north along the north coast with diminishing force before reaching Bangladesh. Rain and possible flooding are expected to continue in Bangladesh throughout the weekend.

Storm warnings were issued for 19 districts of India’s Odisha, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh states, the most likely to be in the storm’s path. In Bangladesh, the national government sounded warnings for coastal cities, including Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees.

As of yesterday (Saturday), no reports of loss of life have been received. Perhaps the coastal evacuations, and the way in which the cyclone stayed just off-shore before disintegrating into a tropical depression at the Bangladeshi coast, accounts for the relatively minor effects of the storm.

Meanwhile, members of the West Bengal Radio Club, are en route to Odisha. Once there, they will link up with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) control room in Bhubaneswar, and will also relay information to Delhi and Kolkata.

A team from Andhra Pradesh is also scheduled to join them later. They will be there to establish radio communication, when all other modes of communication fail following the cyclone. Initially they will be posted to set up radio stations in the OSDMA control room at Rajiv Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Purim and Kendrapara which are expected to be hit severely. They will also visit the areas which will be worst hit after the cyclone comes.

Further reporting from Mozambique after its two Cyclones in the space of a month comes from the website BRIGHT, which notes that 38 people have been killed by Cyclone Kenneth. More than 35,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.”

Cyclone Kenneth came just as hundreds of thousands of civilians, left homeless and hungry by Cyclone Idai — which turned huge swaths of the country into an inland sea — were starting to put the pieces of their lives together. World Vision estimates that flooding from both cyclones have affected nearly 3 million people and the death toll is said to exceed 843 people.

But many experts believe that the death toll from Cyclone Idai alone is much higher than the official figure since countless missing bodies have never been discovered and are believed to have been washed away, and many of the hardest hit regions remain unreachable.

As victims of the storms are struggling to come to terms with the scale of the tragedy, the biggest fear remains the outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera. At least 1,428 people have been infected with the waterborne disease as government and aid agencies work around the clock to contain the outbreak.

The international community has been slow to react to the unfolding humanitarian disaster in what is one of the poorest countries in the world. So far, aid remains “drastically underfunded, with only about $88 million received of the $390 million needed”..

Here’s excellent news from the medical field. Univadis Medical News reports that the Government of Malawi has launched the world’s first malaria vaccine this week in a landmark pilot programme. The country is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to two years of age. The vaccine will be introduced in Ghana and Kenya in the coming weeks.

RTS,S is the first, and to date, the only vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately four in 10 malaria cases, including three in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria. The pilot programme is designed to generate evidence and experience to inform World Health Organization (WHO) policy recommendations on the broader use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine.

This should be a space worth watching. Remember, you heard it here first!

From that master of digital modes involving RF comes a new brother to FT8, this one called FT4. It is available as part of Dr Joe Taylor’s WSJT suite and freshly announced this week. There is a YouTube video called “FT4 vs FT8 – A new mode: What’s the difference?” So if you are looking for advances in digital messages and new countries contacted, watch the video and see if it will meet your requirements.

Now, some news from the Western Cape Division of HAMNET.

Due to circumstances outside our control, we no longer have a storage facility for HAMNET radios, antennas, mobile masts, banners and the likes. We are also working towards acquiring a trailer to carry our kit to a call-out or sporting event of one or other sort. So the decision was taken at a recent Western Cape HAMNET meeting to acquire a 40 foot container, for these purpose. The Western Province’s Emergency Medical Service has allowed us to place the container in the grounds of the Provincial Emergency Management /Centre at Tygerberg Hospital, and it was delivered on last Thursday. Grant Southey, our Divisional Director, has encouraged all HAMNET members locally to join a work party after voting on this Wednesday, to spruce it up with some paint, install a lighting system, and transfer our possessions from their current storage.

The President’s Trophy Air Race took place on Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th of May, in an around the Saldanha air field, and HAMNET Western Cape was asked to man all the turning points of the races on the two days.

We mustered about 16 operators, who manned the beacon points at which the airplanes changed direction along the two routes, kept secret from the airmen until 20 minutes before they took off. Unfortunately, Friday’s weather was overcast and misty with variable rain and cloud height, and the day’s event was cancelled. Saturday dawned bright and clear, and the planes took off at short intervals, and were tracked by the HAMNET ops at each turning point, between 11 am and about 2 pm. Attempts to identify planes by their race numbers were not always easy, and more clear forms of identification will need to be implemented in future races. Nevertheless, a great weekend was enjoyed by all!

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