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Amateur Radio Mesh Network Brought into Mix as Volunteers Assist in South African Fire Disaster


An intense winter storm and severe drought in South Africa’s Western Cape region earlier this month resulted in devastating fires that ravaged parts of the Southern Cape Area, with the city of Knysna being the worst affected. Some fires were reported still burning, but contained, this week, after winds subsided over the weekend.

John Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) Mossel Bay Mesh Network, said the call for volunteers went out on June 8, after cellphone, Internet and landline telephone service was disrupted in many areas. A half-dozen volunteers reported, an emergency net was activated, and message traffic was handled via the AREDN as well as on HF, VHF, and UHF.

Disaster communication links remained active until normal telecommunication service was restored on June 11, but the AREDN remained on high alert, Terblanche said.

The fire disaster resulted in several fatalities, the destruction of more than 430 dwellings, and thousands of evacuees remain displaced. Disaster relief efforts continue. — Thanks to Johan Terblanche, ZS1I via Southgate Amateur Radio News



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