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Indian hams help in cyclone disaster

Date : 15 / 10 / 2014
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

Infrastructure was still being restored following Cyclone Hudhud on Sunday that hit Odisha in the Bay of Bengal on the east coast of India. National disaster communication coordinator, Jayu Bhide VU2JAU said it uprooted 75% of trees, blocked most roads, cut power and communication lines. He said, "There was no water, petrol pumps were out of action and airports closed. So far 22 people had been killed, others injured and many made homeless." Jayu VU2JAU said the cyclone with heavy rain and winds mainly affected Vishakhapattanam (Vizag), but had was now subsided.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveyed the cyclone-hit areas from the air on Tuesday, and attributed early evacuations and the clever use of technology in India's weather office helped save lives. Over 40 National Disaster Response Force teams were engaged in rescue efforts, along with the navy and dozens of divers.

Jayu VU2JAU said, "Radio amateurs had handled emergency communications. Dilip VU2DPI controlled a net with Shantanu VU2SIC and Pawan VU2PGU. Other radio amateurs also played their part in disaster recovery. "It will take about 5 to 6 days before life returns to normal. Crews are repairing powerlines, telephones and other infrastructure," said Jayu VU2JAU.

From the IARU member Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), he monitored emergency traffic from his home QTH in Gwalior. Before Hudhud with winds up to 200 km/h made landfall damaging buildings, power systems and the loss of communication in many areas, thousands of people were evacuated to shelters. Odissa locals initially feared it could be a repeat of the very severe Cyclone Paradip in 1999 that caused 10,000 deaths. Residents were prepared this time with mass evacuations, like they did ahead of destructive Cyclone Phailin in 2013. Earlier An earthquake hit the Yun Nan province in the southwest China's mountainous region of China on October 7, caused a death, injured 336 with 50,000 people displaced.

The 6.6 magnitude Richter scale earthquake was responded to mainly by the military rescue force and some teams had radio amateurs. Fan Bin BA1RB from the Chinese Radio Sports Association said that some rescue teams included radio amateurs, who coordinated efforts in the field with their own VHF and UHF radios. He said the immediate efforts were to rescue victims, deliver food, water and shelter. Then crews fixed any of the disruptions to transport and other facilities.

The shallow 'quake, followed by eight aftershocks, saw many houses collapse in the region close to China's borders with Myanmar and Laos. The City of Pu'er, about 85 kms from the epicentre, had people evacuating buildings for fear of aftershocks, which included a 4.6 magnitude event.

The IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee member, Fan Bin BA1RB, said the local water and electricity supply were now normal, with no disruption to communication including Internet.


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