Gujarat Earthquake Relief Info

A news item published in The Hindu (Chennai Edition ).

February 2, 2001


HAMs prove invaluable


The Gujarat earthquake saw total destruction, including disruption of communication links with the rest of the country.

Ham radio operators swung into action setting up emergency wireless communication stations in quake-hit areas and provided one of the first communication links.

About 30 Hams from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bangalore rushed to Gujarat to help the local authorities with their own equipment. Emergency stations are operating from the residence of the Chief Minister, Collectorate of Bhuj, and from Anjar, Bachau and Ahmedabad.



A news item published in The New Indian Express (Chennai Edition).

Friday, February 2, 2001


HAMs get into action


Hamradio operators swung into action by setting up emergency wireless communication stations in the quake-hit areas of Gujarat and provided one of the first communications links with the rest of the country.

About 30 Hams from Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore rushed them to help the local authorities with their own equipments.

Emergency stations are operating from the residence of the Gujarat Chief Minister,the district collectrates of Bhuj, Anjar, Bhachau and Ahmedabad.

Hams from Rajkot, Belgaum, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkatta, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram , Coimbatore and Chennai are also operating from their locations round-the-clock and exchanging messages from Gujarat to their relatives in their locations.

Report of Amateur(Ham) Radio Emergency Service provided by Bangalore and Mangalore Hams for the Earthquake of Gujarat as on 2nd Feb 2001 9:00 AM.

26th January 2001 - 10:30 AM Bangalore Hams received information of Major Earthquake in Gujarat news thru High Frequency Radio - while most of us were at monthly meeting with flag hoisting event at Indian Institute of Hams (VU2IIH). While most of the Bangalore Hams with HF rushed to their house to monitor and give the feedback on VHF. By afternoon the Bangalore Amateur Radio Club had got the team of Five persons were ready to leave to Ahmedabad but we could not able to get the air ticket from Indian Airlines office and make finance arrangements, sponsorers.

27th January 2001 - 10:00 AM Government of Karnataka decided upon sending a team of Medical Doctors to Ahmedabad and we could impress upon the role of Amateur Radio and include one ham radio operator in the team. Sandeep Shah (VU3SXE) an active ham radio operator and jeweler by profession was nominated to accompany the team and he reached Ahmedabad - Gandhinagar and was in communication with us.

28th January 2001 The medical team moved to Patan (Gujarat) and took charge of Emergency Medical care while Sandeep (VU3SXE) established the HF Link along with VU2LFA (Susheel of Hyderabad). The next team of doctors had Doc Venkatesh (VU2COC) in the team but could not board the plane on the last minute for some confusion at airport. Meanwhile, the local Gujarathi Association could get Four tickets for Sathyapal (VU2FI), Director of VU2IIH, Umesh (VU3BNH), Madhu (VU3MDD) and Patil (VU3NUT) on the same flight. There was an relief train on which boarded Marcus (VU2VTM), Girish (VU3GDS), Prof. Muralidhar (VU3RLM) and Javeed (VU3JAK) taking charge of the medical drugs relief from Government of Karnataka. The stock of situation at Gujarat was taken and the messages from the First team was passed on the Medical authorities.

29th January 2001 - Bangalore had a mild tremor and Hams got reports of situation from various places like damage, help required etc., meanwhile Shri. Sanjay Kaul, IAS, Commissioner for Health, Government of Karnataka along with medical personnel and Dr. Venkatesh (VU2COC) to Ahmedabad and to Pathan.

30th January 2001 - Nataraj (VU2NTA), Secretary, Bangalore Amateur Radio Club and Niranjan (VU2NI) could get airticket to fly to Mumbai and Bhuj directly and co-ordinate relief for Janavikas Kendra (an NGO) while two Hams from Mangalore - Chetan (VU2DMP) and Prakash (VU2JIX) flew from Mangalore to Ahemedabad.

31st January 2001 Shri. Ramachandra (VU2RCR) retired UN Official from Koramangala could start with Sreekanth (VU2SBJ) and Somashekar (VU2NJN) by road driving Qualis.

1st February 2001 Smt. Deepa (VU2DIP) got her station ready at Ahmedabad. The train with Karnataka’s Government sent medicine was handed over to Bhuj District Collector.

2nd February 2001 A total of 18 Amateur (Ham) Radio Operators from Karnataka are still doing emergency communications such as movement of Doctors, Medical and Relief materials, enquiring and giving information of health of individual/ family from remote places where there are phones still not working. Search for Five Belgaum Ambulances with doctors of Karnataka in Bhuj and Bachau District is called and locations are awaited.

This has become an practical exam showing our capability, preparedness in Disaster Management and anticipate that the Government and Non-Governmental organization will support us by establishing, equipping, training such emergency Search and Rescue teams for such forecoming disasters as a part of our preparedness to face such unwanted calamities.

The Government of India has empowered every District in the Country with special provisions to utilize Amateur (Ham) Radio Service when such a natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones and wide spread fire which causes failure of normal telecommunication facilities, the Government of Karnataka is yet to frame and constitute provisions to utilize this service.

This is Lion Ajoy - VU2JHM, President of Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, Post Box # 5053, GPO, Bangalore-560001 reporting....

The Secretary to Government (Finance) &

Nodal Officer for Gujarat Earthquake Relief,

Vidhana Soudha, BANGALORE - 560001.

February 2nd, 2001

Respected Sir,

The following are Ham Radio Operators from Bangalore who are co-ordinating and providing Amateur Radio Emergency Service with Bangalore Base on High Frequency, Satellite, Very High Frequency, Telephone, Fax and Internet link with the groups in Gujarat.

Bangalore Base Station

Co-ordinated by Mr. Pratap - VU2POP and

Lion Ajoy - VU2JHM (Laision to Karnataka State Government)

List updated as on 9:00 AM(Feb 2st, 2001)

#

Location

Name

Callsign

1

Secretariat, Gandhinagar

Sathyapal

VU2FI

2

CM’s Office, Gandhinagar

Girish Das

VU3GDS

3

-do-

Sandeep

VU3SXE

4

-do-

Doc Venketesh

VU2COC

5

-do-

Madhu

VU3MDD

6

Gandhinagar

Umesh

VU3BNH

7

Action Aid Assignment

Patil

VU3NUT

8

Bhuj - DC Office

Marcus

VU2VTM

9

-do-

Muralidhar

VU3RLM

10

Bhuj (Abhiyan Camp)

Nirinjan

VU2NI

11

-do-

Natraj

VU2NTA

12

Dhrangadhra

Chetan (Mangalore)

VU2DMP

13

Ahmedabad (Janavikas)

Prakash (Mangalore)

VU2JIX

14

Neelpar

Smt. Deepa

VU2DIP

15

Anjar (Nirmal Camp)

Javeed Ahmed Khan

VU3JAK

16

Mobile

Ramachandra

VU2RCR

17

Ahmedabad

Sreekanth (Manipal)

VU2SBJ

18

Anand, Gujarat

Somashekar

VU2NJN

At Bangalore another HF, VHF and Telephone node has been created at Gujarathi Association in Bangalore (Gandhinagar area) which is co-ordinated by Ham Radio Operator Mr. Rajesh - VU2RPS - Bangalore and on the air were VU2BGS - Kumar, VU2RO - Soma and VU2UR - Arasu, VU2WAP- Miku, VU3SRE-Vasan, VU2ZAP - Raj, VU2GUR- Guru, VU2IR- Bindu, VU2BRK - Ramasway with many ham radio operators all over Bangalore with VHF and many hams from India and World are able to make this effective Amateur (Ham) Radio Emergency Communication network possible.

This is Lion Ajoy - VU2JHM, President, Bangalore Amateur Radio Club - VU2ARC reporting.

73’s

Bangalore Ham Co-Ordinators
Pratap- VU2POP- Phone 3388073
Ajoy-VU2JHM - Phone 3442600
Rajesh-VU2RPS - Phone 6613657

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AMATEUR RADIO
REPORT ON GUJARAT EARTHQUAKE RELIEF OPERATIONS

The 26th January 2001, the day started with a normal lethargic holiday routine, finishing off with the morning formalities, I along with other family members was in all relaxed mood having a sip of morning coffee and reading days news paper filled with articles on hero’s of the nation to be honored with medals on the occasion of 52nd Republic day by none other than President of India. We were watching television and taking pride in the gallant display of might by Armed forces of our country going past the Rajpath and followed by colourful display of culture and arts by various states depicting the concepts of Unity in diversity, peace and prosperity of the country. But none of us could ever imagine the impending danger to be caused by natures fury that shook entire sub continent with its epicenter near Bhuj in the State of Gujarat. The earthquake that recorded nearly 6.9 on the Richter scale was sensed as far as Bangalore, Delhi etc., and even the neighboring countries in the region. The earthquake had cracked soil, buildings but also cracked lives of over a million people in Gujarat.

Whatever you do look at the poorest of the poor and if you can wipe out a tear, you have done the best.
Mahatma Gandhi

Finishing my lunch by 11:30 am, I came down to my office to finish some of the pending jobs falling behind on time schedule. The radio was switched on and heard over some conversations ‘ragchewing’ as we call in ham jargon. Couple of calls came to the office enquiring if there were any ham stations in Bhuj, after the earthquake several enquiries were turned down due to lack of information at our end. Then by noon the Club station is alerted on the severe earthquake that struck Gujarat by Mr. S.K.Nanda,IAS a senior government official in Ahmedabad. The club station was locked on 14.160MHz the usual frequency of NIAR club station to inform all its volunteers to get prepared for a major relief operation in Gujarat but still the factual details were not yet clear. In the meanwhile Mr. G.L.Rao Vice-Chairman, NIAR contacted his senior colleague in Institution of Engineers Mr. H.P.Jamdar, IAS a senior Government official in Gujarat and informed about the Hams movement from NIAR.

Arise, Awake and stop not till the Goal is reached Swami Vivekananda

The founding fathers of NIAR & its members are to-day satisfied to some extent that they could follow the above preaching.

Mr.S.Suri, VU2MY, Founder & Executive Vice-Chairman and Director, NIAR contacted Mr. D.P.Aggarwal of Arraycom Ltd, Gandhinagar Capital of Gujarat by 3PM and confirmed with the reports of earthquake. He also contacted Mr.. B.M.Tanna, VU2LK popularly known as ‘bob’ on ham radio, a Governing Council member of NIAR, an 85 year old ham to alert Mumbai hams. He made announcements on Ham bands and to Mr.Suri that his eldest son living in Ahmedabad had to move out of his house due to earthquake.

Telephone calls were made by Mr.Suri to Mr.Satyapal, VU2FI & Mr.Nagesh Upadhyaya, VU2NUD of ISRO both Governing Council members of NIAR from bangalore to raise as many people as possible and request them to move to Gujarat. Infact the karnataka Ham teams were a total of 25, the largest number including doctor hams who went to operate in Gujarat. Mr.Ajoy, VU2JHM a lions organisation member was operating from Control Station in Bangalore.

Dr. Shrikant Jichkar, Chairman, NIAR currently in United States of America was informed over phone regarding the earthquake and our preparedness efforts, who readily agreed for NIAR teams to move to Gujarat. The decision was taken to move the first team of Amateur Radio operators with the necessary equipment was taken by 4:00PM and equipment which was already packed in ready to move condition was rechecked and labeled for movement. In the meanwhile Mr.Sahoo who was working in the Indian Airlines office came down to NIAR HQ with his family to know if there was any wireless communication with Bhuj and also to find out the welfare of his relatives and friends in Bhuj. learning our teams movement for earthquake relief operation he readily offered his assistance to obtain Airline tickets for all the team members.

The first team joined at the NIAR HQ for a brief meeting on the task ahead, a team of five persons under the leadership of S.B.Ram, VU2LIC, Manager, NIAR immediately rushed to airport. The team reached mumbai airport by night and there was uncertainty over the flight reservation to Ahmedabad, with the assistance of the airline officials the team could reach Ahmedabad in the first morning flight from mumbai in early hours of 27th. Another batch of 4 Hams from NIAR reached airport but they could not get seats at the last moment.

Our arrival at the Ahmedabad airport coincided with the arrival of Mr. Bangaru Laxman, BJP leader, on learning the cause of our arrival and our earlier efforts in providing second line of communication during Orissa super cyclone, immediately contacted the Chief Minister of Gujarat and made arrangements to send S.Ram Mohan, VU2MYH and K.Ravi, VU3RBN to Bhuj along with the CMs convoy.

While travelling to Bhuj in the helicopter we could see the horrifying scenes of devastation caused by the earthquake, some villages were completely raised to ground, destruction was near 90%. We could hardly see any activity in villages or movement of the people. In several areas we spotted deep cracks on the surface it is very hard to describe the natures fury which simply wiped off these villages from the map.

There was spontaneous & immediate response from Gujarat hams particularly Prem, VU2XMX and Praveen, VU2CPV. They raised the antenna over the Gandhinagar Secretariat, as they did not have a working equipment, they awaited for Mr.S.B.Ram from NIAR to bring equipment for operation.

Immediately on reaching Bhuj collectorate, we wasted no time in unpacking all the equipment and spread the antenna strings on a suitable height which was sufficient to make a contact. We took the power supply from the generator and came on the air. Anyone on the frequency this is VU2MYH VU2MYH calling from Bhuj Collectorate there was a spontaneous reply from Gandhinagar VU2MYH this is VU2LIC from Gandhinagar, what is the first report from Bhuj, VU2MYH this is VU2NRO other team members at Gandhinagar and Hyderabad were already waiting to hear from Bhuj. The system was perfectly working, we contacted the Collector through his deputy for sending their report to Gandhinagar directly through Amateur Radio. The first reports were sent there is severe damage in 5 taluks of Bhuj, Anjar, Bachau, Gandhidham, Rapar, damage to property and loss of life is expected to be very high, we were looking for report to come in from other areas, we need immediate relief, tents, doctors, medicines, food and water are immediately required. The message was heard at Gandhinagar and confirmation to the message was also received. The communication link was established with other Amateur Stations in India and abroad.

By the evening of 27th another team of 10 Hams came to Bhuj from Mumbai taking a treacherous journey by road for nearly 20hours and later took positions in interior places like Anjar, Bachau, Gandhidham and Jubilee ground in Bhuj. The communication network to interior areas was established and messages started flowing in and out of these locations. The alert calls made by NIAR from 26th over radio to all amateurs in India to participate in relief efforts was well received and teams from Bangalore and other places also reached Gandhinagar to support the operation.

By 29th evening another batch of Ham operators with NIAR’s equipment landed in Gujarat in the aircraft sent by Govt. of AP with relief material and took positions by 30th evening. Many more Hams were ready to join the work in Gujarat from all over the country but some of them lacked financial resources to fly by Air.

Mr. Gundu Raja Kartikeya a student member of NIAR, who was already in IIM,Ahmedabad at the time of earthquake joined NIAR team at Gandhinagar. He was instrumental in associating with Swiss Rescue teams and saving lives from debries. Mr. Karthikeya won laurels for his work from Swiss & pakistan Ambassadors and was also honored by Swiss team.

Message of Amateur Radio stations setup in earthquake effected areas was widely publicised in the press and electronic media and as a result several individuals came to their nearest Amateur Radio stations to enquire about the welfare of their family members, friends and loved ones within India and abroad. In several cases we had to personally go and reach the individuals to enquire and report their welfare. As many as 65 Amateur Radio operators were working in Gujarat alone and atleast 100 stations were on the band from all major towns and cities in various parts of the country to relay messages or to pass enquiries.

All the Amateur Radio operators who came to work in the earthquake relief operation have shown excellent commitment, dedication and zeal to serve the society provided communications round the clock despite the fact that they were working under extreme weather conditions. In the first two days water was hard to find food and whatever served in the relief camps and some biscuits. Night temperatures were very low and we had to sleep under open sky without any shelter, even 3 to 4 blankets could not help us fight the cold. Many of us did not have bath for atleast 6 days till we reached our base camp in Gandhinagar.

Almost all the buildings have developed cracks or partly collapsed and were unsafe to stay indoors. Even the collectorate building had developed deep cracks and partly collapsed and was declared unsafe. All the activities were happening on the open ground in the collectorate compound. Even the general public were sleeping outside their houses with the fear of tremors after the earthquake, some of the after shocks that followed days after the republic day killer earthquake have placed a deep rooted sense of fear in the public and also on us who did not directly witness the quake. No four walled structures are considered safe in Bhuj and other areas.

Every one who saved their life after the quake has a sad story to share. Even the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor has either lost their family member or friend or a relative or their house / business or livelihood. There were several stories ringing in the air that some people, who were dwelling in rich became paupers with a single shake of earth under their feet.

The relief work was well co ordinated with the effective functioning of the Amateur Radio communication in the initial days and soon the Satellite phones were brought in and also the video conferencing facilities were established in Bhuj. Which reduced the burden on Amateur Radio operators who later returned to base in Gandhinagar after successfully operating for 8 days. In the meanwhile normal telephones were also restored in many areas.

The success of such a well organised network is also because of the constant motivation and guidance given to the volunteers under the leadership of Mr. Suri, VU2MY chief of Amateur Radio operations, National Institute of Amateur Radio, Hyderabad who was primarily responsible for the initiatives taken to move hams not only of NIAR but also from other individuals and clubs in India. It was a holiday being Republic Day and mobilise money and other resources was a major hurdle, fortunately a friend of mine had visited my office on 26th evening helped me with some cash, we used all the ATM cards of known family members and friends to meet the expenses. Every one we contacted came forward to support the cause.

Thanks to Mr. Anil Sinha, IAS Jt. Secretary in Agriculture ministry, Govt.. of India, the central relief commissioner & the Resident commissioner of Gujarat in Delhi were provided with Amateur Radio communication under the guidance of Mrs. Bharathi Prasad, VU2RBI and Sarat babu, VU3RSB.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Keshubhai Patel personally spoke to Mr. Suri over Ham band on 7th Feb and complemented the Hams efforts particularly NIAR. He followed it up with a letter faxed to Mr.Suri at NIAR on 8th feb.

Amateurs have once again proved that they are always ready to serve when-ever need arises. We at NIAR are always ready for any eventuality all we need is your support and encouragement.

List of Amateur Radio operators from NIAR who worked in the Gujarat earthquake relief operations:

#

Location

Name

Callsign

1

Gandhinagar Secretariat

Ram

VU2LIC

2

-do-

Bhanumathi

VU2BL

3

-do-

Satyanarayana

VU2DSV

4

-do-

S.V.B.Ramu

SWL

5

-do-

G.Raja Karthikeya

SWL

6

CM’s Residence

D.V.R.K.Murthy

VU2DVO

7

Bhuj - Collectorate

Ram Mohan

VU2MYH

8

Bhuj - Collectorate

Ravi

VU2RBN

9

Mobile in Gujarat

Suri

VU2MY

10

Lilpar

Snehal

VU3RBQ

11

Patan Civil Hospital

Sushil

VU2LFA

12

Govt.Of Gujarat,Delhi

Bharathi

VU2RBI

13

Govt.Of Gujarat,Delhi

Raman

VU3DJQ

14

Govt.Of Gujarat,Delhi

Guru

VU3GUR

15

Min.of Agriculture, Delhi

Sarath

VU3RSB

16

Central Relief Commissioners, Delhi

Sunil

VU2UKR

17

Adani Relief Camp, Bhuj

Moses

VU3MOS

18

NIAR, HQ Hyderabad

Jose

VU2JOS

19

-do-

Shankar

VU2GSB

20

-do-

Anup

VU2BGZ

21

-do-

Mumtaz

VU2KAN

22

-do-

Jaya

VU2JMA

23

-do-

Pavan

VU2AED

24

-do-

Chaitanya

VU3MCK

25

-do-

Vinay

VU3OJA

26

-do-

Vani

VU2VMI

27

-do-

Prabhu Das

VU2DOS

28

-do-

Satya

VU2SAX


Several other Hams have also participated apart from the hams listed above.

This article is written by S.Ram Mohan, VU2 MYH who operated from Bhuj. He has also worked in several such relief operations since 1988. Notably the Amarnath Yatra disaster in ’96, Orissa Super Cyclone ’99, Godavari pushkarams and several Cyclones and floods in Andhra Pradesh. He also worked as former Secretary, Siddaganga Institute of Technology Amateur Radio Club, Tumkur & Former Secreatry, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Amateur Radio Club, New delhi.

73 de Jose Jacob, (VU2JOS) vu2jos@india.com

National Institute of Amateur Radio
Box 1555, Somajiguda, Hyderabad 500082, INDIA
Tel 91-40-3310287, Fax 91-40-3311073
Email: niarindia@hotmail.com
Web : http://www.niar.org




Gujarat Cheif Minister Letter




Hams Rush to Help Indian Earthquake Victims

Posted: 2001-01-30

Amateur radio operators are very busy helping with emergency and health and welfare traffic into and out of the earthquake ravaged area of western India. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck on Friday while many were off from work for a holiday. While official reports say the death toll is near 20,000, the Times of India says the number may reach 50,000 since over 800 towns and villages have not been heard from yet.

Raj VU2ZAP, of Bangalore tells CQ Public Service Editor Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, "We now have a group of 12 hams from Bangalore, 8 from Mumbai (Bombay), 8 from Hyderabad, 2 from Baroda" helping out. "Hams are volunteering in droves.

I hear that there is a whole batch of hams in Ahmedabad awaiting deployment to various locations. Hams have also accompanied teams of orthopaedic and casualty doctors from various cities. Radio relief communication is on 40M and 20M; separate frequencies are in use for different cities with one netting frequency." VU2ZAP describes two levels of activity taking place: First the hams are providing communications for the district administrations, organizing the relief efforts. Second they are helping with welfare inquiries. "People are requesting info about the welfare of their families from all over India and abroad.

Hams are contacting their families and relaying back their welfare and whereabouts. We are being swamped with hundred of requests every day. What is hampering the hams in their efforts in the earthquake hit cities is the lack of mobility and mobiles. Most of these earthquake affected towns are flattened and there are no street signs and sometimes no trace of the cities! Survivors of flattened homes/condos may not be there anymore, they are camping outdoors; so finding them is a problem. A heart wrenching situation." The Times of India reports that ham radio is considered to be "the second order radio communication." Bangalore has nearly 2000 ham radio operators who have contributed a lot during the calamities.

Raj says "Hams are unable to get train tickets or afford airlines tickets to these areas. Most of them have gone via relief trains free of cost as they can ill afford to buy tickets on their own. Few others have pooled resources to rush a few hams to the remote disaster struck areas." "Yoshi, JA1UT (an earthquake survivor himself), and Selva, 9V1UV, are on standby with a group of hams to provide communication assistance to the earthquake hit areas. Their budget is $ 20,000. The Delhi Relief commissioner has denied permission for their entry.

The Amateur Radio Society of India is working on trying to obtain permission for their entry into the country." VU2ZAP adds, "the ARSI is short of funds to provide expenses for earthquake relief. The international ham community may contribute via the society for relief efforts. For further information amateurs can contact the ARSI secretary Adolf, VU2AF (adolfbs@vsnl.com).

CQ will update this developing story on the website
CQ Amateur Radio as details become available.
Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, CQ Public Service Editor


Amateur Radio Society of India Seeks Help for Hams in Relief Effort

Posted: 2001-01-30

As mentioned in our initial report on hams helping with earthquake relief efforts in India, funds are being collected to help radio amateurs there deal with the earthquake that rocked northwestern India on Friday. Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI) Secretary Adolf, VU2AF in Bombay told VU2ZAP the need for money can be described in one word - "logistics." "We need (money) to provide the hams with local material which can't be individually carried. Radio equipment is manageable at this point in time." However there is a need for "portable water/food, fuel for generators and transporting it to quake affected areas."

According to Raj, VU2ZAP, "Most of the amateurs in VU are not affluent enough to be able to afford transport to a far off place. We can't permit them to take a dent in the family budget even after they are willing to lose pay to do this work… We need to send replacements every week or 10 days," Raj adds. "Living in rough conditions away from families, among death and destruction, can be very destructive on the mind and break the spirit." Surplus funds will be used to provide relief for the disaster victims and to enhance disaster handling abilities if needed.

The ARSI is short of funds to provide expenses for earthquake relief. The international ham community may contribute via the Society for relief efforts. Any additional questions can be sent to VU2AF at adolfbs@vsnl.com.
Cheques in INDIAN RUPEES may be sent to:

Amateur Radio Society of INDIA
4, Kurla Industrial Estate
Ghatkopar
Mumbai (Bombay) 400 086
INDIA

CQ will update this developing story on the website
CQ Amateur Radio as details become available.
Bob Josuweit, WA3PZO, CQ Public Service Editor


Disaster Communication Report:
HAMs for Gujrat (India) Earthquake Help

It was normal day like any other, HAMS of Mumbai got together as usual for the “Early Birds Net” at 7:00 am on VHF. 26th January 2001 being the republic day and a holiday many hams decided to stay on the frequency after the net for ragchew (Chatting).

They were on VHF frequency on Ham Band which is used for local communication, chatting away when the disaster struck at 8:45 am. Immediately they turned on their HF sets on (which are used for global communication). Reports of tremors started coming in from many places in India. Hams all over India started describing their experience.

By now it was clear that something terrible has happened and some place in India was targeted by nature. The Mumbai Amateur Radio Society’s Disaster Communication Team, which is trained for such kind of calamity decided to mobilize. They were now waiting for conformation of the Epicenter of the earthquake. By 12:00 Noon the television announced that the Bhuj was the target.

The team consisting of 9 members ( Nilesh Rathod-VU2NLF, Sandesh Kamat-VU2SXF, Mukesh Jaitley-VU2UGJ, Sandip Adiwarekar-VU2UGO, P.V.Jaiprakesh-VU2JPN, Pankaj Pasad-VU2RIO, Huzefa Merchant-VU2HIT, Mehul Chovatia-VU3MBF and Kunal Mashru -VU3KUN) got together at Mumbai Central Station at 16:00 hours. The Station Master immediately arranged for the seats for the teams after knowing the cause of their visit. By 17:10 hours the team was on its way.

The Team reached Ahmedabad at 01:40 hours, where they were received by their counter parts ( Prem-VU2XMX & Pravin-VU2CPV). They immediately rushed to meet the Collector at Gandhinagar. After reaching the Collector’s office the team met the Govt. officials, Plans were discussed, strategies were worked out. It was decided that the team will head for BHUJ and their counter parts (Prem, Pravin and Kunal) will setup the station in Mantralaya, Gandhinagar Govt. Headquarters. Necessary documents were issued and two jeeps were provided by the Gujrat Government. The Mumbai Team headed straight to the Disaster Area.

The team made their first HF Contact with Adolf Shepherd-VU2AF, in Mumbai at 11:30 hours when they stopped for a cup of tea, Informing that they were now only 100 Km from the disaster location. The drive to Bhuj was shocking as they passed all the villages which were totally devastated, People were moving out while the team was moving in.

On reaching BHUJ they met the collector and Jagdish Pandya-VU2JGI who was working in official capacity with the government and discussed their plan of Action. Three teams were formed. One station was immediately set us at BHUJ, Sandesh,Huzefa and Mehul stayed back to man that station. The second consists of Nilesh, Mukesh and Sandeep head for Bachau and the third team of Pankaj & Jaiprakesh headed for Anjar.

Upon reaching Anjar and Bachau, the teams met the local officials Mr. Atanu Chakraborty - IAS Officer incharge in Bachau and Mr.Sanjay Gupta-IAS officer incharge in Anjar, who were more than happy to receive them in this hour of difficulty when all modes of communications had failed. Within no time stations were setup and bingo! The communication was restored. Now there was a Ham Radio link between Bhuj,Anjar,Bachau,Gandhi Nagar and rest of the world.

Information started flowing, Important Government messages were now being passed across the stations. 100s of Messages from the local people who were the victim of the disaster were passed to the relatives and kin via radio. Hams in Mumbai (Rajen Kavadia-VU2RIG, Minoo,Contractor-VU3MHC, Nafisa Shikari-VU2NFS, Sarla Sharma-VU2SWS, Mahesh Vhatkar-VU2IIA) copied all the messages coming from the disaster area and called the relatives of the victims on telephone informing them that “all’s well” and otherwise, While the team in Gandhinager also did the same. Many other stations all over India and some International stations also participated in this noble cause.

While the Teams were busy passing all this information, a Ham Radio Station was set up in Mantralaya in Mumbai which was manned by Zyros Zend-VU2ZRS and George Phillips-VU2GT. This was in order to provide vital communication link between Mr.Ashish Bhargava at Mantralaya and the Maharashtra Government official Mr.Sarangi in Bachau. Vital Information now started flowing between these two stations.

By then a Medical team from Brihan Mumbai Mahanagar Palika consisting doctors from Nair Hospital,KEM Hospital and Sion Hospital had reached Bachau to help the injured victims. Dr. Sudhir Shenoy – VU2REK, who is also a HAM was supervising from Mumbai via his Ham Radio Set. Once again a Ham Radio link was established between Dr. Sudhir Shenoy in Mumbai and his medical team in Bachau, now the medical data was being passed by the Ham radio Operators in Bachau. Required medicines and other surgical aids were ordered via Ham Radio.

The teams worked everyday from 6 am to 1 am for 6 days in harsh living conditions, sleeping in the Jeep in Bachau and make do tents in Anjar and Bhuj, in the extreme cold weather with a very limited food supply, mainly consisting of biscuits and water.

Finally the Govt. installed the Sat-Coms and V-Sats. The Mobile cellular network was also restored in Bhuj, Anjar and Bachau. Many other Hams from all over India had now reached Gujrat. It was then decided that it was now time to head home. The team got together at Bhuj and was flown in by the Indian Air Force to Mumbai.

For further information contact:
MUMBAI AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY.
Tel: 4920898 / 5673390 / 3866312.
E-Mail : m_a_r_s@indiainfo.com

Reported by VU2 APT
Source QRZ


Indian Hams Assist in Quake's Wake (Jan 26, 2001)

Amateurs in India have begun responding in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake January 25 in the State of Gujarat in Western India. Horey Majumdar, VU2HFR, reports the quake measured at least 6.9 on the Richter Scale. Tremors were felt in neighboring Pakistan as well as in all of northern and western India and as far away as Nepal.

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Indian Hams Seek Clear Frequencies for Indian Quake Traffic (Jan 29, 2001)

Indian Amateur Horey Majumdar, VU2HFR, in Calcutta reports that the death toll in the wake of the January 26 earthquake in the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat stands at 20,000 and continues to rise. Aftershocks are causing panic among residents in the affected region, and another one measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit Sunday morning.

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Indian Hams Working Around the Clock in Quake Relief Effort (Feb 1, 2001)

Nearly one week after a devastating earthquake struck the State of Gujarat in Western India, Amateur Radio continues to play a major role in the relief effort. Amateurs have established HF and VHF stations throughout Gujarat to aid in supplying food, clothing, medicine and shelter to the earthquake victims. More than 20,000 have perished, and the death count is expected to go much higher.

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Indian Hams Put Technology to the Task (Feb 8, 2001)

Hams assisting with earthquake relief operations in the Indian State of Gujarat are even taking advantage of the UO-14 amateur FM satellite as they continue providing communication from the stricken region. Hams within the quake zone and those keeping touch from the outside also have found themselves caught up in the human tragedy. The death toll from the quake now is estimated at up to 50,000 and could rise higher. Even more were injured, and one estimate says more than 600,000 were left homeless.

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Amateur Radio Plays Major Role in Earthquake Relief

Nearly one week after a devastating earthquake struck the State of Gujarat in Western India, amateur radio continues to play a major role in the relief effort. Amateurs have established HF and VHF nets throughout Gujarat to aid in supplying food, clothing, medicine and shelter to the earthquake victims. More than 20,000 have perished, and the death toll is expected to go much higher. Amateurs from ARSI, the IARU member-society, and from the National Institute of Amateur Radio have been on the scene since the 27th of January, providing communications support and information on victims. VU2DVO reports that amateurs are ''working round the clock". Traffic is being handled on 40- and 20-metre frequencies as well as on VHF. Indian amateurs have asked for cooperation in maintaining clear frequencies in the vicinity of 14.155 and 14.160 MHz as well as on various net frequencies between 14.250 and 14.270 MHz.

Source RSGB

Rescue Radio: India Quake calls out Ham Radio Comms

The ground shakes. The lights go out. The phones go dead. Once again its Mother Nature on the ofensive. This time as a massive quake hits India. Q-News Graham Kemp, VK4BB, has more:

Ham radio opertators across the nation of India responded quickly after devastating earthquake in the State of Gujarat hit on January 26th at 8:46 AM local time. As we go to air, government officials estimate that 15,000 to 20,000 may have perished in the tembler.

According to Cal Tech, the quake measured 7 point 9 on the Richter scale. Thats almost ten times more powerful than the 1994 quake that shook parts of Southern California seven years ago. But the quake in India cut a swathe of destruction across the western state of Gujarat, from the epicenter near the coastal marshes of Kutch to its prosperous commercial capital Ahmedabad. Tremors were felt in neighboring Pakistan as well as in all of northern and western India and as far away as Nepal.

With all normal lines of communications instantly cut, it fell to ham radio to provide a radio lifeline. According to a report from VU2MY at the National Institute of Amateur Radio in Hyderabad India's NIAR was quick to react. It deployed Suri Ram Mohan VU2MYH and four other ham radio operators from Hyderabad to Ahmedebad two hours after earthquake struck.

Shortly after the deployment of the first group of hams the Chief Minister of Gujarat requested additional hams.

S.B. Ram, VU2LIC was sent by air from Hyderabad with sixteen additional NIAR hams early Saturday morning, January 27th local time. As we go to air, VU2LIC is remaining with the Chief Minister and is providing him with personal communications to the central government in Delhi. Other members of the ham team have set up High Frequency stations at key ministries, at the airport and at hospitals in Ahmedebad. Also an unknown number of hams from Bombay have moved operations into the quake stricken zone.

NIAR continues to operate two relief nets around the clock. On twenty meters the frequency is 14.160 Mhz. This is VU2LIC's liaison between Ahmedebad, the NIAR net control station VU2NRO in Hyderabad and the government in New Delhi. The other net is on 7.023 Mhz on 40 meters for links within Gujarat state.

Also from NIAR comes word that VU2MYH operating mobile is attempting to reach Bhuj. This is an area near the epicenter which has been totally cut off from the outside world since the quake struck. Airiel reconisance shows that much of Bhuj had also been reduced to rubble that in some places is piled 25 feet high.

In the meantime hams worlwide are being asked to protect these vital channels as they are India's only means of communications into and out of the quake ravaged state.

From Q-News Australia, I'm Graham Kemp VK4BB, reporting for Amateur Radio Newsline.



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