Emergency Communications

Christchurch New Zealand earthquake, a week on

The massive recovery operation continues after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Christchurch at 4.36am on Saturday 4 September, leaving a damage bill of NZ$4billion and physically injuring a few people.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC) members quickly established an on air net and observed the operational status of the repeater systems, an apart from at least one switching to emergency power all was fine.

AREC Assistant National Director, Geoff Chapman ZL3PX said designated emergency frequencies for on the 80m, 60m and 40m bands, plus 2m band simplex were activated.

Pakistan flood disaster update 4 September 2010

The Pakistan Amateur Radio Society (PARS) reports that a cross-band emergency repeater is set to provide the first communications of its type to the flood hit Swat Valley, linking it to the rest of the country through a chain of 2-metre band repeaters. PARS emergency communications organiser Asad Marwat AP2AUM that while the linking of so many repeaters will cause a tail squelch delay, given the circumstances and lack of proper equipment it will be acceptable. A convoy of radio amateurs is relocating a repeater already installed at Changla and relocating it to Malakand Heights, so it can be linked into the emergency communications system via Nowshera.

Asad AP2AUM said that a team of radio amateurs will be transporting via a helicopter a VHF base station with a high gain antenna, and subject to the availability of a 12v car battery all should be up and running.

As the massive flood disaster that has ravaged Pakistan for the past month shows no signs of easing, PARS continues to collaborate with Islamabad Jeep Club members and the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians to provide support for those affected. Some 30 radio amateurs are involved in providing emergency communications in response to the disaster estimated to have affected 20 million people and claimed 1500 lives.

AREC at the ready following New Zealand earthquake

So far AREC (Amateur Radio Emergency Communications) volunteers have not been required in any major way to assist, following the earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand. The magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred at 4.36am local time Saturday 4 September, while most people were asleep in their homes.

The result was extensive building damage in New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch, with only two people seriously hurt and no one reported trapped or missing. AREC Deputy Director, Geoff Chapman ZL3PX who lives in Christchurch, said that while AREC was at the Civil Defence Headquarters, there has been no requirement for it to pass any emergency traffic. That is due to restoration of telephone and power to the majority of the affected areas. While water and sewerage sys tems have been affected there has been no reported major loss of roads or bridges. However AREC is ready, as the situation could worsen with the weather bureau issuing a warning of very strong winds with gusts up to 130km/h and heavy rain posing new threats to already damaged buildings.

Adding to the danger are numerous aftershocks with authorities advising that these will continue for many days or weeks.  The 'quake is New Zealand's most damaging since the one which hit Napier (Hawke's Bay) in February 1931, that saw radio amateurs extensively provide emergency communications. That led to the formation by the IARU national radio society, the New Zealand Amateur Radio Transmitters (NZART) of what is today known as AREC.

Pakistan flood disaster update

The Pakistan Amateur Radio Society (PARS) reports that emergency communications support for ham radio amateurs have been extended in the past week to three more villages. PARS emergency communications organiser Asad Marwat AP2AUM said food and non-food items have been provided to around 1,000 families in the Charsadda and Nowshera areas. He said that a medical camp was also established which treated almost 700 patients mainly suffering from Skin and Gastro diseases.

The United Nations estimates 20 million have been affected across Pakistan by the flood disaster and 1600 lives lost. Asad AP2AUM said that the area is not covered under the 2-metre repeater footprint so communications have been restriction to simplex operation within the group. He said that about 30 hams are providing help to those who have fled the flooded areas. Additionally hand-held radios and cross band repeaters and antennas have been offered from Turkey. Once they arrive, said Asad AP2AUM, the relief operation can be successfully expanded into Inner Punjab Province. PARS continues working in collaboration with Islamabad Jeep Club members with their 4WD sport utility vehicles delivering essential relief supplies, with medical help being provided by the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians.

Hams play role in welfare and recovery efforts after Pakistan's floods

The medical and food support being provided to the many people affected by the flood disaster in Pakistan affecting six million people is being assisted by the combined efforts of radio amateurs, a group of four wheel drive enthusiasts and the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP). Around a quarter of the country has been affected by the floods over the last three weeks that were triggered by intense summer monsoon rainfall swelling the Indus River into Pakistan's worst ever flood. The United Nations estimates 20 million have been affected in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces and 1600 lives lost.