Ham Radio Volunteers in India, Philippines Wrap Up Disaster Responses
India’s National Coordinator for Disaster Communication Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU, has expressed appreciation to the Amateur Radio community for keeping 7145 kHz clear so that ham radio volunteers could pass emergency traffic in the wake of a cyclone. Teams of radio amateurs responded October 13 to assist in the aftermath of powerful Cyclone Phailin, which came ashore at Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in the Bay of Bengal. The storm generated gusting winds and heavy rain, forcing the advance evacuation of some 500,000 residents.
“The main effect of the wind was seen in coastal areas, which were evacuated before the cyclone,” Bhide said. “In spite of wind speed, all the telephone lines and mobile towers were working, and communication was not affected as we thought earlier.” Bhide had asked that 7145 kHz be kept clear, as Dilip, VU2DPI; Mithilesh, VU3BHI, and Sameer, VU2AOR worked around the clock, passing essential messages and doing what they could to help.
The latest cyclone revived memories of a monster storm that hit the same region 14 years ago, killing 10,000 people. Better preparation and early evacuations kept the death toll to 21 this time. Thousands took shelter in public buildings ahead of the cyclone. Many mud homes and farms were destroyed, and uprooted trees blocked roads. Agricultural activity was expected to take a long time to recover.
Power remained out this week in the Ganjam District of Odisha, where the entire power system reportedly was blown away. The power outage has caused an acute water shortage.
Two days later in the Philippines a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the islands of Bohol and Cebu, causing casualties and severe infrastructure damage. Philippine Amateur Radio Association volunteers responded. Ramon Anquilan, DU1UGZ, said the earthquake occurred just as work crews were about to clean up the debris left by Typhoon Santi. He asked that 7095 kHz be kept clear for emergency traffic.
According to messages via HF, on 2 meters and via EchoLink, many buildings were damaged, bridges collapsed, power knocked out and schools closed. Hams also passed reports on weather conditions and aftershocks. The earthquake hit on a national holiday in the Philippines, at the beginning of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Media accounts reported landslides in some areas, with more than 8500 homes destroyed. The death toll topped 180 by week’s end. — Jim Linton, VK3PC, IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee chair; media reports