India and Europe have both suffered severe rain storms this week, with flooding, destruction of houses, and some loss of life.
In India, on 12-13th July, heavy rain caused floods, mudslides and landslides in Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand (northern India), resulting in casualties.
In Himachal Pradesh, the Indian Disaster Management Division (NDMIndia) reports three fatalities, and up to eight people missing after a number of landslides occurred in Boh Valley and Kangra District. Search and rescue operations are still ongoing as national disaster response teams have been mobilized to the area. In addition, several houses have been damaged by floodwaters of the Manjhi River in Dharamshala City.
On 14-16th July, heavy to very heavy rain was forecast over Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Greg Mossop G0DUB IARU Region One EmComm Coordinator has reported that unprecedented heavy rain caused widespread flooding in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands with over 120 deaths and hundreds more people unaccounted for. The rains which started on Wednesday caused rivers to burst their banks and the water converged into major rivers like the Meuse, Mosel and Rhine causing damage to bridges and other infrastructure such as power and telecommunications networks.
The Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service (DARES) was on standby from Wednesday evening as the first reports of flooding came in, with an initial attempt to establish a point to point link from the Provincial capital of Maastricht to the north of Limburg province; this was halted due to heavy traffic as citizens followed calls to evacuate low lying areas. DARES members were in contact with members of the Belgian Emergency Amateur Radio Service (B-EARS) to co-operate and co-ordinate their work.
The European Civil Protection mechanism was activated and emergency groups across the region reported their Governments sending extra assistance and supplies to the areas where damage was worst. The surge in flood water was continuing to make its way North leading to further evacuations and the Radio Amateur Emergency groups started to get more focused requests with B-EARS being asked to provide a backup VHF link between the emergency call centre in Brussels and the province of Hainaut through Friday while DARES had four stations active in the Limburg area ready to respond if an issue occurred.
The most loss of life and damage has occurred in Germany where over 1000 people remain unaccounted for and the loss of mobile networks has slowed the effort to locate people while many others are without power or homes. The emergency communications unit of the DARC is handling enquiries for amateur radio support in the worst hit areas but this is not always easy to achieve as members in the area have been directly affected losing equipment or their homes.
Emergency communications groups in the affected, and surrounding countries, are ready to respond to requests made and are working well together, co-ordinating their response as needed. This emergency will last for some time as infrastructure is repaired and the threat from damaged dams and more rainfall is reducing.
In the light of this week’s civil unrest in this country, it is appropriate to mention that, over the past three decades, there has been significant growth in the body of research into the effects of relative overexposure to news, particularly negative news. And the past 18 months since the onset of the Covid pandemic, as well as varying levels of civil unrest have resulted in further studies looking at that impact in an era where society has even more exposure, due to a combination of the 24-hour television news cycle, and the doom-scrolling of news and images on social media.
According to one such study, published in November 2020, authored by professors from the Universities of Arkansas and Purdue in the US, “psychological distress may impede a person’s ability to cope with the many life changes Covid-19 has required, such as fewer social interactions and physical distancing or quarantining. Additionally, work productivity or caregiving needs may be neglected when psychological distress is present… there is also a need to empirically examine the social conditions relating to the pandemic, such as increased news coverage and news consumption that may be related to increased psychological distress.”
They continue: “During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective.” Admittedly, there is no denying that such advice may bear resonance only for those who are not directly affected. A regular exercise and sleep routine is not a simple matter for residents living in townships and suburbs that are directly affected by violence and looting.
However, beyond the thought-out articles published by reputable news sources, the studies suggest that it is important to develop a personal strategy with regards to the consumption of the constant loop of violent imagery, especially on social media. Perhaps as per the World Health Organization’s guideline on Covid related news, “seek information only from trusted sources…Seek information updates at specific times [only] during the day, once or twice.”
Thank you to Malibongwe Tyilo and Maverick Life for these excerpts from his article.
Finally, according to Phys.org on Friday, the Hubble Space Telescope should be back in action soon, following a tricky, remote repair job by NASA.
The orbiting observatory went dark in mid-June, with all astronomical viewing halted.
NASA initially suspected a 1980s-era computer as the source of the problem. But after the backup payload computer also failed, flight controllers at Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Centre focused on the science instruments’ bigger and more encompassing command and data unit, installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009.
Engineers successfully switched back to the previous backup equipment on Thursday, and the crucial payload computer kicked in. NASA said on Friday that science observations should resume quickly, if everything goes well.
Launched in 1990, Hubble has made more than 1.5 million observations of the universe. NASA launched five repair missions to the telescope during the space shuttle program. The final tune-up was in 2009.
NASA plans to launch Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, by year’s end.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory when it launches in 2021. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency.
I wonder how many people know who James Webb was..
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.