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Amateur Radio Aids Post-Typhoon Rescue and Recovery Effort

11/09/2013

Officials in the Philippines are still assessing the extent of damage wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (locally called “Yolanda”), which hit the central Philippines November 8. The death toll is at least 100, with many others injured and some 500,000 people left homeless. The typhoon (hurricane), with sustained winds approaching 150 MPH with gusts to 170 MPH, swept away homes and buildings, blocked roads with fallen trees and debris, and disrupted electrical power and communication facilities. Ham Emergency Radio Operator (HERO) Thelma Pascua, DU1IVT, said hams were handling essential traffic, as the rescue and relief effort continues.

“We have established a good HF communication link with Tacloban City,” she said. “Exchanges on air are for emergency, priority or welfare traffic to and from Leyte Province. This may take days while other means of communications are yet to be restored.” DX5RAN (RADNET or District 5 Radio Amateur Network) is operating at the Tacloban City Hall powered by a generator and using a wire antenna. Tacloban City is on Leyte, the hardest-hit island and one of six islands that the typhoon slammed into on Friday.

Survivors sheltering in damaged homes described how the noise sounded like a jumbo jet was flying above their roofs. Pascua said that the National Telecommunications Commission was monitoring the traffic on the HERO networks on 40 and 2 meters. “Also, even without commercial power, an amateur club, DX7BC in Bohol is with us on 7.095 MHz, ready to relay, in case propagation becomes poor between DU1 and DU5,” she explained. “Bohol is on the eastern side of Leyte. We admire these hams, with such a short break from their relief and humanitarian operations [from an October earthquake], here they are again ready to help out in communications. They are in the Governor's place as the command center.” High-ranking government officials are expected to use a HERO link, with Nathan Eamiguel, DU5AOK, as the operator, to communicate with the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Council.

The Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA) activated the HERO operators in advance of Typhoon Haiyan, and it has been in use ever since. After leaving the Philippines the fast-moving typhoon is headed across the South China Sea, and other countries China and Vietnam among them, lie in its projected path. — Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee

 



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