Radio Amateurs in India Fill Communication Gaps in Cyclone’s Wake


Authorities in India called on Amateur Radio volunteers to help after powerful Cyclone (hurricane) Hudhud swept into the Bay of Bengal coastal areas of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh over the weekend. According to media reports, several people have died as a result of the storm, which generated heavy rains and flooding, and winds upward of 130 MPH, uprooting trees and downing utility lines, and cutting off conventional telecommunication systems. While the worst of the hurricane-force winds and heavy rain is over, the cyclone still may cause flash flooding and additional damage. Especially hard hit was the capital city of Visakhapatnam, where the airport had to be closed and power is out over a wide area. A full damage assessment is expected to begin this week, after the storm is entirely out of the region, but unofficial estimates put the damage at more than $1.5 million.

“In Odissa there are six hams working hard to maintain the communication covering the state,” said National Coordinator for Disaster Communication Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU, with the Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI). The effect of Hudhud is now reduced, and few deaths have been reported.” Media accounts have put the death toll at eight. Thousands of residents were evacuated to shelters in advance of the storm. Media reports say that residents of India's eastern coast are desperately seeking what they need to survive. The storm made landfall in the same general area struck last year by Cyclone Phailin.

Bhide reported that Preeti Mekap, VU3UFX; Rajesh Kumar, VU3PLP, and Sameer Ranjan Panda, VU2AOR, are active from the Bhuvaneshwar area. In the Sambalpur area Dilip Padhi, VU2DPI, is working with Santanu Panigrahi, VU2SIC, and Pawan Agrawal, VU2PGU.

In the Andhra coastal area, volunteers from the National Institute of Amateur Radio have been handling emergency communication. Bhide has been monitoring emergency traffic from his home in Gwalior. — Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC, IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee chair