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Communication Support for Dual Disasters in Indonesia


Following two natural disasters, an earthquake triggered tsunami, and separately an erupting volcano, radio amateurs are providing their help as the enormous response effort continues.

ORARI (Organisasi Amatir Radio Indonesia) International Affairs Coordinator Wisnu Widjaja, YB0AZ, has provided initial information about the involvement of ham radio operators in the dual disasters that hit the Indonesian archipelago earlier this week.

He said that the ORARI Communication and Rescue Task Force has joined the team of the Disaster Management of Directorate General Post and Telecommunications, Ministry of Communication and Informatics Republic of Indonesia.

"They have been operating in the field and providing communications support to the government and communities in the area where the eruption of Mount Merapi catastrophe at Yogyakarta province and the earthquake also followed by tsunami at Mentawai of West Sumatra," said Wisnu, YB0AZ.

Media reports that more than 400 died, mostly drowned after the tsunami triggered by a 7.7 magnitude offshore earthquake struck the Mentawai islands late Monday off the west coast of Sumatra. Up to 300 others are missing.

On the island of Java, several hundred kilometers away, 29 were killed when the volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted on Tuesday releasing clouds of hot gas, rocks and lava into the air. Almost 42,000 people had fled to temporary shelters around the nearby city of Yogyakarta as the area is covered in volcanic ash.

The remoteness of the affected areas, poor communications, and the ongoing disaster response and relief efforts are likely to see the ORARI Communication and Rescue Task Force involved for some time yet.

News reports described repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi on Friday, October 29. 

The National Disaster Coordinating Agency said 270 people were seriously injured and 142 had minor injuries. More than 22,000 people have been displaced or affected by the tsunami, which swept up villagers and their homes without warning, the agency said.

-- Jim Linton, VK3PC, Chairman, IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee; some information from CNN



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