HAMNET Report 13th August 2023

As recently as Friday, the Global Disaster Alert Coordination System (GDACS) was still reporting the threatening nature of Tropical Cyclone KHANUN, which, having done its dirty work over the islands of Japan, was making landfall over the central-southern coast of South Korea. Thankfully, it had dissipated to a certain extent, but was threatening the world Scout Jamboree happening there.

However, 65061 people in several prefectures of southern Japan were still under evacuation orders, and 16000 households had experienced power cuts.

One of our Western Cape HAMNET members is Ann Stanbridge, ZS1AMS, and she is very involved in the Girl Scouting movement. She told me that it was decided to evacuate all 30000 scouts and guides from the Jamboree, in more than 1000 buses, to safety, as a result of the threatening rains and flooding. A further 10000 non scouts were also evacuated from the coastal areas of South Korea. That evacuation must have involved some organizing!

As of Friday, the whole of South Korea was still under Typhoon warning. There has apparently been one fatality, and 15900 people evacuated. 14500 Korean families are without power and 361 facilities have been damaged.

Slovenia in central Europe has also been battered by rain. Euronews says that Intense flooding there has been described as the country’s ‘worst-ever natural disaster’.

At least four people have died and the resulting damage is estimated to be over €500 million. The catastrophic weather saw almost a month’s worth of rainfall in 24 hours and has cut off roads and bridges, and swamped many buildings. Tens of thousands of homes have been left without electricity in an event damaging two-thirds of the country.

According to the Slovenian Prime Minister, Robert Golob, “The damage is unimaginable, as practically two-thirds of Slovenia is affected in one way or another, and the efforts to enable normal life again will be very great.”

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes, with many rescued by helicopters or firefighters in boats.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised help from the EU saying that the damage in Slovenia was “heart-breaking”. The Slovenian government has also asked NATO for assistance in the form of military helicopters and prefabricated bridges.

At the same time, flash floods caused the deaths of 11 people in a landslide in Shovi, a mountain resort in Georgia. Around 200 people were also evacuated. Further flooding is reported by GDACS in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, China and Norway.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the same news report cites rising temperatures as having led to a slew of forest fires, including in Central-Western Portugal and the Spanish-French border, where residents have been evacuated. Fires have also broken out on Greek islands as well as on the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

Even Ukraine is feeling the heat. More than 18.5 per cent of the country is covered in forests making it particularly partial to wildfires. It has seen the most land burned between 2020 and 2022 of all EU countries. While this is partly due to climate change, a significant amount is down to the war with Russia.

And fire has almost burnt out the complete Hawain island of Maui, leaving 80 people dead by Friday, and hundreds unaccounted for. About 28000 visitors to the island were flown out on Wednesday and Thursday, and large numbers of the population evacuated to safety.

One does not have to look far for examples of extreme weather these days!

A local disaster has been reported by the NSRI which says that at 01h50 CAT, Tuesday, 8 August, NSRI Mossel Bay was alerted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services of a mayday distress call received on VHF marine radio, but very little information could be determined from the distress call other than it was suspected to have been broadcast from the Gouritz area, on the South Cape coastline.

The vessels name and position was not known, and neither were the number of persons on the vessel determined. All efforts to reach the vessel that had transmitted the mayday, had failed. A fishing vessel in the Gouritz area had also received part of the mayday distress call.                                                                                    

An NSRI Mossel Bay rescue vehicle and Mossel Bay Fire and Rescue Services responded to Gouritz River Mouth and initiated a search in West and East directions, along the shore line. Local Gouritz (CPF) Community Policing Forum members joined NSRI and Fire officers in that search.

During the search the NSRI rescue crew, 5km West of Gouritz River Mouth, happened upon a local fishing trawler washed up on rocks at about 03h00 CAT where the skipper of the casualty vessel was rescued from rocks in shallow surf. He claimed he had been conducting CPR on one of his 6 crew men, but that area of the rocks was by now covered by the high tide.

The skipper confirmed that there were a total of 7 people on board, including himself. One crewman could be heard shouting for help from the casualty fishing vessel that was badly damaged and was being battered by heavy waves.

An NSRI rescue swimmer was able to recover the man from the fishing vessel in rough seas. The skipper and the crewman were treated for hypothermia. The next morning four bodies were recovered from the sea, but a fifth crew member is still unaccounted for.

I have received a report from Ian Bradley ZS1BR, who has become enthusiastically involved in assisting at motor rallies in the Western Cape. He writes:

”On Saturday the 5th of August we had a blazing start to the All Tar Rally at Killarney race track. With 38 competitors starting at one-minute intervals the radio marshals had their hands full keeping track of everyone, especially on stages that had multiple laps of the circuit. This is an unusual arrangement as we’d normally have fewer cars at larger intervals, but thankfully the radio team brought their A-game, and comms worked like a well-oiled machine. The term “organised chaos” certainly comes to mind.

“The entire rally was confined to the tracks at Killarney, so simplex was our go-to communications method. Davy and Daniel were both situated with the commentators in the tower and operated as relay as needed.

“Several accidents delayed the event, and one stage had to be scrubbed halfway through due to a particularly bad crash. As always, medics and recovery crews were close at hand. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to the participants; however, some of the cars didn’t fare quite as well.

“Special thanks to Davy ZR1FR, Daniel ZS1SCH, Roger ZR1AKK and Jannie ZS1JFK for making it a pleasant outing.”

And thanks to Ian too, for his part in the rally comms, and for writing the report.

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