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New Nepal Earthquake Keeps Amateur Radio Relief Effort Going

05/13/2015

Amateur Radio relief activity in Nepal had begun to wind down before a magnitude 7.3 earthquake shook parts of the Himalayan nation on May 12, collapsing buildings and killing dozens in a region that’s still trying to recover from the much stronger earthquake on April 25. The latest quake revived the ham radio effort. Centered some 50 miles east-northeast of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and near the border with Tibet, the temblor was felt in India and Bangladesh. The US Geological Survey considers the May 12 tremor as an aftershock of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 25.

“Immediately after the first tremor I turned on my station and gave a call on 14.210 MHz,” said Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI) National Disaster Communication Coordinator Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU. He subsequently made contact with Satish Kharel, 9N1AA, who reported that power as well as Internet and cell phone service were out, although text messaging was still possible. 9N1AA was operating from battery power at the time, but later got his power back. Other parts of Kathmandu are still without electricity, however.

Bhide said he learned that some three multi-story structures that suffered cracks in the initial earthquake collapsed, killing several people. Other reports from Sindhupal Chowk indicated that eight people had died, he said. Bhide said he would be monitoring continuously on 14.210 MHz.

The Computer Association of Nepal-USA (CAN-USA) project “Radio Mala” reported that equipment it deployed in 2013 continues to function in the aftermath of the latest tremor. Radio Mala team member Rick Santina, W6IFA, said that  Sanjeeb Panday, 9N1SP, had e-mailed the CAN-USA team that the HF station was still working. Panday has installed the antenna for the second CAN-USA UHF/VHF repeater, but the installation was not able to be completed before this week’s aftershock.

9N1AJ and 9N1SP were scheduled to be on 21.360 MHz from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.

“We are still deploying ham radio equipment to Nepal in response to this humanitarian crisis,” said CAN-USA Disaster Preparedness Committee Chairman Suresh Ojha, W6KTM.

 



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