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Hams on Alert in Wake of Chile Earthquake


A magnitude 8.2 earthquake occurred off Northern Chile on April 1, and a powerful 7.6 magnitude aftershock rocked the area on April 3. After the initial temblor, the Radio Club de Chile activated in collaboration with ONEMI, the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Interior and Public Security.

Radio amateurs established an emergency communication net using 7.050 and 14.255 MHz, according to Julio Zavala, CE3OP. The initial earthquake killed six people and triggered a tsunami that pounded Chile's shore with 7 foot waves.

Right after the first quake, Amateur Radio volunteers in Hawaii opened a tsunami radio watch net on the linked statewide State Civil Defense RACES/Oahu Department of Emergency Management VHF/UHF repeaters. The net carried periodic announcements from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, said ARRL Emergency Coordinator and RACES Coordinator Ron Hashiro, AH6RH. The ETA of the tsunami was 3:24 AM, local time.

Amateur Radio observers reported only modest effects, however, and the radio watch net shut down at 4:32 AM, local time. The tsunami advisory was cancelled about 3 hours later.

Thousands of people who had evacuated Chile's low-lying coastal areas returned the morning of April 2, after authorities called off the first tsunami alarm. They retreated again after the second earthquake, but a precautionary tsunami alert along the coast and in neighboring Chile was canceled.

The threat may not be over, according to Paul Earle, a seismologist at the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center. He said the Tuesday earthquake was insufficient to release the stress in the vicinity of the undersea seismic gap. "It's going to take some time to evaluate the effect of this earthquake on that region," he said. "But people should stay prepared."-- Thanks to Ron Hashiro, AH6RH, Jim Linton, VK3PC, The Daily DX, and Reuters





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