29 May 2006
Volunteer-run amateur radio operators in Indonesia are providing emergency communication for relief operations in the wake of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake Saturday affecting Yogyakarta and surrounding area. Located on Indonesia's main island of Java, Yogyakarta is a major tourist attraction and home to some 400,000 residents. The quake has left more than 5,000 people dead, injured more than 6,000 others and leveled entire communities.
Indonesia's International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society, the Organization of Amateur Radio for Indonesia (ORARI) has been coordinating an emergency communication network comprised of so-called "Zulu Stations" and individual volunteer radio amateurs. As is the practice in Indonesia, ORARI has designated several zulu-prefix emergency communication stations to handle disaster-related traffic on HF and VHF.
"Beside several local emergency zulu stations and operators, there is an emergency zulu station portable from Jakarta, YC0ZRA, operated by Achmad Sanusi, YCOLJH, and Budi Sabara, YCOCSR, both from Jakarta," reports Wyn Purwinto, AB2QV. A native of Indonesia, Purwinto has been gathering information on the disaster response from his home in New York. He says the portable station also supports the Indonesian Offroad Federation (IOF) with its heavy-duty all wheel drive vehicles. IOF volunteers assisted following the 2004 tsunami, transporting food and supplies.
Soejat Harto, YB6HB--a physician who heads ORARI District 6 in North Sumatra and who's now in the E Java provincial capital of Surabaya--planned to travel to Yogyakarta May 29 to join a ham radio emergency medical team there. Purwinto notes that Dr Harto was among the Amateur Radio volunteers who helped during the 2004-2005 tsunami disaster relief effort, when ORARI ARES District 6 team was on continuous duty in Aceh and North Sumatra, including Nias island.
According to another report, Praharto, YB2BFZ, of the ORARI branch in Banyumas, 200 km west of Yogyakarta, has deployed his emergency radio communicator (ERC) team to Yogyakarta with generators. Monitoring a VHF repeater in Purworejo, 100 km west of Yogyakarta, Rivai, YB2MTA, heard reports that several ERC teams from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Bekasi and the W Java provincial capital of Bandung were also heading to Yogyakarta to offer additional support. The Global Rescue Network team from Jakarta, which also had experience in Ache and Nias following the 2004 tsunami has deployed to Yogyakarta as well.
YB2MTA also reports that that Suwanto, YB2BY, and Sriyono, YD2KSB, are planning to drive a jeep carrying bottled of water to Yogyakarta on May 30.
Purwinto is updating his "Emergency Communication in Yogyakarta" Web page with information he's compiled on the Indonesian ARES response to the earthquake.
Indonesia is located on the Asia Pacific's so-called "ring of fire," vulnerable to volcanic and tectonic activity. Yogyakarta is near Mt Merapi, an active volcano that scientists and residents have been watching closely over the past several weeks. Its activity has increased markedly since the earthquake.
Relief volunteers still in Indonesia since the 2004 tsunami have shifted their efforts to aiding earthquake victims. The United Nations and various relief agencies have begun transporting food, water and other basic supplies to the affected region. Electrical power and telecommunication services are said to be still erratic.