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2017 News Releases




Disaster communications in Sri Lanka flood

Date : 01 / 06 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

Torrential monsoonal rain in south-western Sri Lanka last Sunday (May 28) sparked a flood and landslip disaster with an urgent call for help received by the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL).

RSSL President Jaliya Lokeshwara 4S7JL received a request from the Road Development Authority seeking help from radio amateurs. The RSSL reports that emergency communications were needed to link remote Kalawana, one of the worst hit areas and Ratnapura. All communications had failed due to heavy flooding, earth-slips, and broken communications networks. The RDA declared roads were impassable. Only air rescue by the Sri Lanka Air Force helicopters was possible and without communications that was even more difficult.

A plan was quickly put in place with four radio amateurs ready to be airlifted from Colombo to both locations to form a communications link. Jaliya 4S7JL and Nadika 4S6NCH were the first ready to go, and were joined by Victor 4S7VK and Dimuthu 4S7DZ. Victor 4A7VK said: “We knew we could do it, we were self-sufficient and willing to rough it out.”
“It was a hard task, but within 30 minutes of landing the High Frequency link was established. It had two days of tremendous coordinating rescue flights, movement of patients from Kalawana hospital to Ratnapura, and food drops.”

The emergency link remained until the restoration of mobile phone connections and roads were cleared. Victor 4S7VK in his report concluded: “We are happy we could win the day for simple high frequency radio.”

The disaster aftermath continues with the deaths of 177 people and thousands of displaced survivors.

The RSSL issued a report and pictures of the Amateur Radio involvement in the disaster.Link

- Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee with Jayu S. Bhide VU2JAU National Coordinator for Disaster Communication in India (ARSI), and Victor Goonetilleke 4S7VK.


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