As the time passes the situation in Nepal, hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend, seems to be getting worse. Many people are still buried in collapsed buildings and caught in rubble from landslides and there are fears that the number of deaths may increase above the estimated 5,000.
Rescue teams are moving away from capital of Kathmandu, to reach devastated villages near the quake’s epicenter.
National Coordinator for Disaster Communication in India, Jayu S. Bhide VU2JAU, reports that authorities have issued 9N7-prefixed callsigns to some visiting HAMS. He said there was very limited or no power and mobile towers down and mobile recharging was impossible. “In spite of the appalling conditions, the HAM radio operation is in progress and the Nepalese Government has started issuing HAM licences to those visiting HAMs, with callsigns that have the 9N7 prefix. “The authorities have asked for radio stations to be set up at different places to cover most of devastated areas. We are also requesting them to operate on different frequencies to avoid QRM,” said Jayu VU2JAU.
The whole of India has seemingly swung into action to aid the earthquake victims in neighboring Nepal, especially those HAMs who were rarely seen previously. Jayu VU2JAU, Suhas VU2SMN, Peddy VU2PEP Rakesh VU3PUA, Sarath VU2SCV along with some other HAMs have controlled the emergency communication, keeping the frequency busy with messages. They are also trying to get information on the missing people to inform their relatives. A list of 17 missing people from Maharashtra has been passed to 9N1AA, along with 67 others from various countries, with Nepalese authorities involved.
Lists should now be checked against the Red Cross or Google person finder services at;
to ensure that use is made of the more complete casualty lists available from the Red Cross as they increase their relief activities.
The ARRL along with other groups around the world are trying to respond to the request for VHF handhelds and other equipment which has been passed over the 20m emergency nets. However the process to get even basic emergency supplies and Search and Rescue Teams into the area is hampered by restricted capacity at Kathmandu Airport and Customs procedures. The Nepal Government has signed a customs agreement for the facilitation of emergency relief consignments but even with this agreement in place ( which is solely for humanitarian shipments, not necessarily communications equipment ) the documents that must accompany any humanitarian shipment under the terms of the Agreement are:
1. Cover letter requesting customs clearance (with list of attached documents);
2. UN Certificate (see template in the Agreement’s Annex), duly completed by the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s (RC) Office;
3. Completed Custom Entry Form;
4. Bill of Lading/Airway bill (contract of transport), original copy;
5. Commercial Invoice or Deed of Donation;
6. Packing list;
7. Declaration of Origin
This is not an easy process to complete but the ARRL are continuing with their efforts to get the requested equipment through.
Amateur Radio HF nets have been one link between Nepal and the outside world, as Internet service continues to be intermittent and Nepalese hams also are active locally on VHF/UHF.
Radio Amateurs are again requested to keep the frequencies in use by Nepal clear and allow the Nepalese stations to control the flow of messages, in the same principle as any other distress message.
The current known frequencies are, 14.205, 14.215 and all the designated Region 3 Emergency Centre of Activity frequencies which may be found in the IARU Emergency Telecommunications Guide at http://www.iaru.org/emergency-telecommunications-guide.html .
Sources: GDACS, ARRL, IARU Region 3