The following news items are courtesy of the American Radio Relay League and the International Amateur Radio Union:
The ARRL reported on Wednesday, August 22:
Radio Amateurs in the flood-stricken Indian state of Kerala are helping with rescue operations there, in part by tracing stranded people through their last mobile phone locations and sharing information with officials. Most telecommunication services in Kerala remain down. Accounts vary, but some 120 Amateurs— and perhaps as many as 300 — have been working 24/7 to support official rescue operations.
“Kerala has been hit by the worst flooding and landslides in 100 years, with six districts and neighboring areas submerged in 7 to 15 feet of water that has spilled over from nearby rivers,” Suwil Wilson, VU2IT, told the American Radio Relay League. “One million people are in relief camps, and more than 300 people are dead. Power and mobile communication in the affected areas are cut off.”
Wilson said he coordinated the statewide response, which has been managed by individuals without the involvement of any Amateur Radio organization in India.
“Hams gathered at the Thiruvananthapuram District Administration office, where the District Emergency Operations Centre is functioning, and set up an Amateur Radio emergency communication control centre to work with the District Disaster Management Authority to support rescue and relief operations.” Wilson said, adding that Amateurs from all over Kerala have been relaying reports of people stranded or in need of medical aid. “So far hams have reported the location and other details of more than 15,000 victims stranded on roofs of houses and other buildings as floodwaters rose to the second floor of buildings.”
“This model worked flawlessly for 6 days till the end of search and rescue operations,” Wilson said. “[T]he extremely surprising gathering of individual hams gathered together in all districts and started functioning, which later become a strong network. At the control centre, we received messages relayed from other parts of the state and logged all communications and took further actions that resulted in the rescue of over 1,800 people. In many cases the first information was relayed by hams, before any other agency did.”
Wilson said the operation continues in many parts of Kerala to coordinate the distribution of relief material in relief camps.
Ram Mohan Suri, VU2MY, Director of the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR), said hams in Kerala “have worked against all odds to rescue people.” Suri said 1,650 people were rescued on the basis of ham radio reports from the Thiruvananthapuram centre between August 16 and August 19.
The IARU reported on Sunday, August 19:
Amateur Radio responds to flooding in Kerala, India
Jayu, VU2JAU, reports that Radio Amateurs in the Indian state of Kerala are actively responding to this disaster. Flooding caused by monsoon rains and overflowing dams has currently killed over 300 people and left over 300,000 evacuated to relief camps.
They are using HF and VHF for both local and wide area communication between the Senior District Administrators and many of their local offices. Stations are working 24 hours a day on 7110 kHz and 145.5 MHz as well as a local 2m repeater at Idukki. The stations are involved in passing messages assisting the administration in running the evacuation, such as organising food, water, medicines etc..
The preparedness of Amateur Radio has been demonstrated to the State Disaster Management Authorities and Local Administrations before and is now being put to good use.
Many Radio Amateurs in the area (too many call signs to list here) are already active and many more are ready to assist. Stations outside India are asked to help by avoiding QRM to their operations.