WorldRadio, Year 34, Issue 12, June 2005, page 2 (monthly magazine): "SUMATRA QUAKE RESPONSE"

By Wyn W. Purwinto, AB2QV

A deadly under ocean magnitude 8.7 quake occurred on Monday 3-28-2005 at midnight followed by several smaller tremors located off west coast of Sumatra island or near Banyak islands that is between Nias island and Simeulue island. More than 1000 people in Nias, North Sumatra Province, are reported to have died as a result of the earthquakes.

Ninety three days after Nias island's beautiful beaches and seaside towns such as Lahewa and Tuhemberua hit by the massive tsunami, the whole island was trembled violently by the mag 8.7 quake. Many people in South East Asian countries felt the quake. Soon after the enormous shock the authorities in northern Sumatra and neighboring countries warned their coastal dwellers to prepare to evacuate. Yet no tsunami was occurred at that time.

Following this strong quake, the ORARI (Organization of Amateur Radio for Indonesia) headquarters in Jakarta has sent an emergency radiogram on 3-28-2005 17.00 UTC to all ORARI members so they prepare to help Nias island and secure the VHF and HF frequencies (3.800-3.875, 7.050-7.060, 14.250 and 21.300) for emergency traffic. The HF frequency they frequently use is 7055MHz.

The ORARI-ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) team including med doctor Soejat Harto, YB6HB, Zulkarman Syafrin, YC6PLG, Herman Rangkuti, YC6IQ, from district 6/Northern Sumatra and four med doctors from Medan has been deployed to Nias island on Tuesday afternoon 3-29-2005 by using an IndoAF's Cassa airplane to Nias airport. Then they flew with a Puma helicopter to Gunung Sitoli - the largest city in Nias island. This team has many experiences with emergency communication support activities in the tsunami disaster areas several months ago. After setup their command post and zulu station YB6ZAH at the TVRI's (the Indonesian Public TV broadcasting) tower location near Gunung Sitoli city, on Wednesday 3-30-2005 at 11:00AM local time the team members have successfully transmitted through a linked repeater in northern Sumatra on 146.300MHz and the local repeaters on 146.000MHz and 146.350MHz to contact the world outside including the ORARI's district 6 command post in Medan, Sumatra island.

Syafrin reported that the quake has damaged the power, telecommunication and transportation infrastructure or take them out altogether in Nias island. The roads to Gunung Sitoli city are totally damaged. The team has to use their portable generators. Problem was occured that they might not have enough fuel. Due to its limitation the ARES contact to outside of the island has to be scheduled every two hours. According to Yaterorogo Laoli, YD6KYR, a member of ORARI in Nias who has communicated with Ady Susanto, YB6VK, in Medan through 146.350MHz repeater on Thursday 3-31-2005 early morning, that the TELKOM (Department of Public Telecommunication) office has a bigger generator that can be used by the ARES team. For its convenience the team's emergency station YB6ZAH was relocated to the TELKOM building near by the tower. Since the fuel was not a problem anymore YB6ZAH station has been on almost all day.

The day after the quake there are so many victims have not been evacuated. Syafrin heard a victim screaming for help from under the rampage near Gunung Sitoli far from his ARES station. Since Tuesday night 3-29-2005 through next day afternoon the ARES team worked hard with less food to eat or no food at all. They keep drinking water since their station location has no food supplies. Susanto heard Mr. Lubis, a nonham radio communicator, calling through 146.350MHz repeater from an evacuation tent at the mountain in Nias island. Lubis requested some aid relief including food. Susanto suggested him to coordinate with Syafrin's ARES team in Gunung Sitoli. According to Susanto, Lubis has successfully contacted Syafrin through VHF simplex.

Moreover, Susanto planned to send immediately a solar cell set to the ARES team in Gunung Sitoli, Nias. While Berman Pasaribu, YD6HP, was ready to send additional logistical from Siborongborong town to Sibolga, a coastal town of North Sumatra Province, for the ORARI members to be shipped to the ARES team in Gunung Sitoli, Nias.

Earl Campbell, N8TV, a ham from New Mexico State who has been volunteering with the International Red Cross in Banda Aceh during post-tsunami, has contacted Wyn W. Purwinto, AB2QV. He explained that he was asked by M. Yusuf Hanafiah, an administrator of Simeulue island, to go with him and setup an emergency hamradio station in the island. Campbell will bring his FT-897 and FT-817 rigs to Simeulue island. At the end of the week, Campbell changed his plan. He departed to Nias island instead. In Nias Campbell will also use his notebook PC wirelessly through the V-Sat system for a world-wide Internet connection and supporting the ARES team in Gunung Sitoli.

The U.S.N.P.R (a national public radio agency) mentioned on Wednesday morning 3-30-2005 that the US Navy has sent the hospital ship USNS Mercy and the supply ship USNS Niagara Falls that will arrive on early April at Nias island. The medical crews of the ships will give some medical treatment to the survivors in the island. On Wednesday afternoon, Mark Wolfe, N7YMW, a technician with the USNS Mercy, has contacted W. Purwinto, AB2QV, to get an update on the situation in Nias. He also looks forward to possibly coordinate with the ORARI-ARES team in the island and Campbell, N8TV, in the region.

According to Budi Halim, YB0HD, several zulu stations have been setup or activated for amateur radio emergency services (ARES) operating through 7055 MHz, 14,250 MHz, 21,300 MHz, simplex on 147.0 MHz and 145.0 MHz, as well as VHF repeaters on 146.0 MHz, 146.3MHz (linked) and 145.260MHz (linked and good to be used from Nias and west coast of North Sumatra Province). The stations include:
YB0ZR station, BAKORNAS (central command post) office - http://www.bakornaspbp.go.id - in Jakarta, phone: 21-3458400.
YB6ZES station, ORARI District 6/Northern Sumatra, Medan, phone: 614-537509.
YB6ZEZ station, the medical command post at Polonia airbase, Medan, phone: 617-877200.
YB6ZAM station, Sibolga coastal town across from Nias island.
YB6ZAH station, ORARI-ARES in Gunung Sitoli, Nias, phone: 639-21185.
This phone list - if the telecomm is available in the disaster area - can be used for third party service.
YB6ZAL station, Tabuyung coastal village, Madina Regency.
YB6ZMW station, aboard USNS Mercy, operator: Mark Wolfe, N7YMW.
YB6ZEC station, International Red Cross, operator: Earl Campbell, N8TV.
YB6ZAG station, Global Rescue Network.

Since the day after magnitude 8.7 earthquake near Nias island, Ady Susanto, YB6VK, and Zulkarman Syafrin, YC6PLG, in Medan, Ruddy Arianto, YB0NM, Budi Halim, YB0HD, and Triadi, YB0VKN, in Jakarta, Earl Campbell, N8TV, in Banda Aceh and later in Nias, had daily Internet exchange with Wyn W. Purwinto, AB2QV, in Syracuse, New York. Only Syafrin had to join the YB0ZAH team to Nias in the afternoon of the second day. Soon after USNS Mercy and USNS Niagara Falls were instructed to return on 3-30-2005, Mark Wolfe, N7YMW, who is a ship technician with Mercy, made daily contact through Internet with Purwinto. Wolfe with his USNS medical team, Campbell and ORARI-ARES will coordinate together and send their crews to help the victims and survivors everywhere in the islands. On 4-5-2005 the ORARI-ARES of District 6/Northern Sumatra has granted YB6ZEC station call to Earl Campbell and his team, and YB6ZMW station call to Marc Wolfe and his marine medical team for conducting their emergency services in and surrounding the islands.