Emergency Communications

Nepal Earthquake - Update 3 May 2015

An announcement is expected today ( Sunday ) of the official end of the international Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) phase with the expectation that USAR teams will start leaving the area shortly. It is however still the case that in rural areas it is taking 5-6 days to reach those areas to try and provide assistance.

Two Amateur Radio stations have started operating from some of those rural places. 9N3AA Jose operating from Damauli, District Gorakha and 9N1SD Akarshan installed at Sindhupalchowk. Both the areas are highly devastated and affected.

VU2JAU reported that all amateurs in India are coordinating well, he also makes special mention of A41LD Walid bhai who has supported them right from the first day.

Nepal previously depended heavily on mobile phones for communications ( 64% according to Wikipedia ) and while restoring supplies to cellphone sites can be prioritised, power supplies for the citizens remain difficult. A requirement for 500 crank chargers was identified immediately which was passed on to all Indian Radio Amateurs who hope to be able to ship some crank chargers soon.

Many countries radio amateurs remain active in the area as the communications needs have not gone away. Teams certainly remain from India and China with some emergency traffic also heard in what was believed to be Russian on 14.300 on Friday.

Operations are taking place on a number of frequencies in the 40, 20 and 15m bands with 9N1SP specifically maintaining an international link on sked with the American MARS organisation.

All amateurs are reminded that emergency traffic may be heard on any frequency in the Amateur bands as it is not always possible for the Nepal stations to operate on the IARU Emergency Centre of Activity frequencies. If you hear the words ‘Emergency’ please give the stations room to work.

Sources: VU2JAU, GDACS, APAN, 9N1Emergency

Nepal Earthquake - Update 30 April 2015

As the time passes the situation in Nepal, hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend, seems to be getting worse. Many people are still buried in collapsed buildings and caught in rubble from landslides and there are fears that the number of deaths may increase above the estimated 5,000.
Rescue teams are moving away from capital of Kathmandu, to reach devastated villages near the quake's epicenter.

National Coordinator for Disaster Communication in India, Jayu S. Bhide VU2JAU, reports that authorities have issued 9N7-prefixed callsigns to some visiting HAMS. He said there was very limited or no power and mobile towers down and mobile recharging was impossible. "In spite of the appalling conditions, the HAM radio operation is in progress and the Nepalese Government has started issuing HAM licences to those visiting HAMs, with callsigns that have the 9N7 prefix. "The authorities have asked for radio stations to be set up at different places to cover most of devastated areas. We are also requesting them to operate on different frequencies to avoid QRM," said Jayu VU2JAU.

The whole of India has seemingly swung into action to aid the earthquake victims in neighboring Nepal, especially those HAMs who were rarely seen previously. Jayu VU2JAU, Suhas VU2SMN, Peddy VU2PEP Rakesh VU3PUA, Sarath VU2SCV along with some other HAMs have controlled the emergency communication, keeping the frequency busy with messages. They are also trying to get information on the missing people to inform their relatives. A list of 17 missing people from Maharashtra has been passed to 9N1AA, along with 67 others from various countries, with Nepalese authorities involved.

Lists should now be checked against the Red Cross or Google person finder services at;

http://google.org/personfinder/2015-nepal-earthquake/
http://familylinks.icrc.org/nepal-earthquake/en/pages/home.aspx

to ensure that use is made of the more complete casualty lists available from the Red Cross as they increase their relief activities.

The ARRL along with other groups around the world are trying to respond to the request for VHF handhelds and other equipment which has been passed over the 20m emergency nets. However the process to get even basic emergency supplies and Search and Rescue Teams into the area is hampered by restricted capacity at Kathmandu Airport and Customs procedures. The Nepal Government has signed a customs agreement for the facilitation of emergency relief consignments but even with this agreement in place ( which is solely for humanitarian shipments, not necessarily communications equipment ) the documents that must accompany any humanitarian shipment under the terms of the Agreement are:

1. Cover letter requesting customs clearance (with list of attached documents);
2. UN Certificate (see template in the Agreement’s Annex), duly completed by the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s (RC) Office;
3. Completed Custom Entry Form;
4. Bill of Lading/Airway bill (contract of transport), original copy;
5. Commercial Invoice or Deed of Donation;
6. Packing list;
7. Declaration of Origin

This is not an easy process to complete but the ARRL are continuing with their efforts to get the requested equipment through.

Amateur Radio HF nets have been one link between Nepal and the outside world, as Internet service continues to be intermittent and Nepalese hams also are active locally on VHF/UHF.

Radio Amateurs are again requested to keep the frequencies in use by Nepal clear and allow the Nepalese stations to control the flow of messages, in the same principle as any other distress message.

The current known frequencies are, 14.205, 14.215 and all the designated Region 3 Emergency Centre of Activity frequencies which may be found in the IARU Emergency Telecommunications Guide at http://www.iaru.org/emergency-telecommunications-guide.html .

Sources: GDACS, ARRL, IARU Region 3

Radio Amateurs activate as Chile Volcano erupts

The Calbuco volcano in the Los Lagos region of Chile erupted for the first time after 54 years of inactivity, forcing the evacuation of an area of 20 kilometers around the volcano. Some 5,000 residents of the area have been evacuated from locations such as Chamisa, Lago Chapo and Route 225.

Marisa Tobella Pinto CE2MT, Director of Emergency Communications, said he advised that 7050 kHz is in use for emergency nets, with the alternative frequencies being 14250 kHz and 3738 kHz.

Winds are pushing the plume of ash towards Argentina where the authorities are also putting emergency arrangements in place and some flights have been cancelled fearing that flying could be dangerous.

Further information will be posted when received from Region 2.

GAREC 2015 Cancelled

The organisers of the Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference (GAREC) 2015 have taken the difficult decision to cancel this years conference.

The projected attendance for the conference which was to have been held in Tampere, Finland between June 23-24 was below last year's and so was not adequate to justify the participation of external speakers and presented a financial risk to the organisers.

Rather than take a chance that attendance will increase substantially leading up to the Conference, a difficult decision has been made to cancel. All registered participants will be contacted by the organisers shortly.

Cancellation of the conference is a loss to the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications community and thoughts are now turning to how to continue with what was started 10 years ago and maintain the good working relationships which have been developed, as well as providing a place for those positive achievements to be promoted.

IARU at World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Category 5 Cyclone Pam caused severe damage when it hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu last weekend. Recovery is expected to take a very long time.

The idyllic location is a haven for tourists and DXpeditioners, with all who had been there struggling to recognise damaged landmarks now being shown on TV news.

Like other countries in the region very few local radio amateurs exist, and no communication has been heard from many islands.

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale was at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held at Sendai Japan and made an emotional plea for humanitarian assistance.

All of the development made by Vanuatu has been swept up in the widespread devastation that has been deaths, injuries, loss of power and communications, with up to 70% of the population displaced. President Lonsdale has now returned to Vanuatu.

The International Amateur Radio Union Region 3 was on a panel as part of the UN Conference at Tohoku University, organised by the International Telecommunications Union Development (ITU-D) Sector.