THE CATESTROPIC TSUNAMI DECEMBER 26th 2004 AND THE RESPONSE BY RADIO AMATEURES IN SRI LANKA.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies that Asia has witnessed in its history. When the Tsunami struck, to be very honest, most of us hadn’t even heard of the word as we had never experienced one before. There was utter confusion when the tidal waves 10 metres high, hit the coastal areas of most of Sri Lanka, with it taking the entire communications system in the affected areas. Information was sketchy and confusion reigned supreme. The radio amateur community heard about it when a frantic call crackled through the VHF repeater from Galle by one of our members, to tell us that massive tidal waves had swept through Galle town and even washed off a section of the hospital in Mahaodara.

As the hours ticked by the full extent of this horrendous disaster was unfolding and the Prime Minister’s office was appealing to the country for any means possible to assist in the disaster. While people were rushing to collect food and clothing, the amateur radio community sprang into action informing the PM’s office that we could provide emergency communications. It was hard to contact the PM’s office as the phone lines were saturated and a messenger was sent to try to get in contact with the PM’s disaster centre. In the meantime, the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL) got a team together to head for Tissamaharama as we had some logistical support there a few kilometres inland to set up a base camp. The plan was to assess the damage and requirements and flash back the information to Colombo to do whatever was possible.

As the team was about to leave at midnight a call came from the PM’s office to inquire whether we could really provide communications telling us that there was no electricity and it was hard to even assess the situation there. We assured that we could do our job. When asked what the Government could do to assist, we stated that we were well prepared, self-reliant and we needed only official sanction/blessing by the PM’s office for our operations. We were requested to go to Hambantota as the destruction was heavy and that they feared deaths as high as 8000. and for our disaster operations centre to set up at Temple Trees as part of the Prime Minister’s disaster operations centre.

Within 20 minutes of arriving at Hambantotala the RSSL team set up HF and VHF stations and a stream of desperate and heartbreaking messages started pouring into the disaster management Centre at Temple Trees. Meanwhile radio amateurs all over Sri Lanka were standing by assisting with relays of weak signals at times and transcribing and forwarding information to the relevant authorities.

In the meantime a request came from the Secretary to the PM to seek assistance for a mobile team to go along the devastated coast to assess damage and requirements and convey the information to the disaster operations centre. The Govt. was requested to provide transport and armed escort as the security situation was volatile. Within an hour two hams undertook the arduous journey taking two days to reach Matara often taking inland routes to reach coastal towns, backtracking and again going forward. They were met with broken bridges, ruined building and devastated survivors. The Yatiyantota VHF repeater helped a great deal in this mobile effort.

For three days the radio amateurs kept their network going before the police and military took over operations.

A full report is being compiled with credits and commendations. In the meantime the Radio Society remembers with pride and gratitude the heroic service by the radio amateur community in our country’s hour of need.

Disaster operations and the destruction that met the RSSL team

Communication centre at Prime Minister's official residence (Temple trees),Asantha on mike,with Kusal and Dimuthu in background holding flashlight.

Communication centre at Prime Minister’s official residence (Temple trees),Asantha on mike,with Kusal and Dimuthu in background holding flashlight.

Communication centre at Prime Minister's official residence (Temple trees). Kamal on mike with Kule and Wije, Victor in bacground

Communication centre at Prime Minister’s official residence (Temple trees). Kamal on mike with Kule and Wije, Victor in background

Setting up the communication station in Hambantota District Secretariat, Kusal with Dimuthu. Asantha's 4WD in which we travelled to Hambantota in background.

Setting up the communication station in Hambantota District Secretariat, Kusal with Dimuthu. Asantha’s 4WD in which we travelled to Hambantota in background.

Communication centre at Prime Minister's official residence (Temple trees), Bharat on mike with Victor

Communication centre at Prime Minister’s official residence (Temple trees), Bharat on mike with Victor

Asantha holding the flashlight for illumination in night time operation at Hambantota

Asantha holding the flashlight for illumination in night time operation at Hambantota

Destruction in Hambantota, photo taken by Asantha

Destruction in Hambantota, photo taken by Asantha

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Happy Christmas, Complements of the Season!!

RSSL Cards

The President and the Council of Management of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka –  wish all our members, world-wide friends, partner clubs and IARU Region III member organisations a Happy Christmas and the best Complements of the Season.

May the festive season give you the time to spend with families and friends and of course catch up with the Amateur Radio Bands.

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MONTHLY MEETING FOR NOVEMBER WILL BE 26TH WEDNESDAY @ OTTERS AQUATIC CLUB BALCONY HALL 6.P.M.

The General Meeting for the Month of November 2014 will be held on Wednesday 26th Nov at 6 P.M.. The venue is the Balcony Hall of the Otter Aquatic Club  , 380 / 1 Bauddhaloka Mawatha Colombo 7.

MONTHLY MEETINGS .

Please note that unless otherwise notified, monthly General Meetings will be held at Otters Aquatic Club at 6.00 P.M. on the last Wednesday of the month. Please also monitor the RSSL net regularly on 145.625 MHz at 0900 P.M. for RSSL announcements. You are welcome to contact any Council member if you need to verify meeting dates. Membership and ID Card applications can be obtained at the meetings. Membership renewals are also accepted by the Treasurer at the monthly meetings.

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Monthly meeting 29 Oct @ Otters , 6pm (With Special presentation about HAMSPHERE)

Dear Members,

The October monthly meeting is all set for the 29th Wednesday at 6 PM as is customary, last Wednesday of the month. Special feature will be a “Live” presentation by 4S7RM Rodney with help from Nadika and Samy who always assist with multimedia projectors and Internet connectivity. We will have Denver  4S7DA and Noel 4S7AVR, Nihal 4S7WN hopefully wx permitting, to respond and of course any others that we might come across.

As mentioned before in one of our messages, with Hamsphere one needn’t have a Ham Callsign or even  a transceiver to enjoy virtual ham radio. Come over and listen to Rodney explaining it, then go home and program your computer and get on the airwaves and contact other radio amateurs all over the world.

The regular Newsletter will follow with pictures and details of other activities. This is a short text note as some of you get your internet on your mobiles.

73 and CU at Otters today

Victor 4S7VK

Hony. Secretary RSSL.

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The 57th Jamboree On The Air (JOTA 2014)

The Jamboree on the Air (JOTA 2014) will be held on the 18th and 19th October, (this weekend). And as usual radio amateurs in Sri Lanka will be assisting scouts and girl guides to come together to spend two happy days on the airwaves contacting each other. logo_JOTA_JOTI_2014

This also gives an opportunity to take amateur radio to the youth of this country. Many of the radio amateurs of today got their exposure to Amateur Radio due to the JOTA. We urge our radio amateurs to give out their best to make this event a great success.

We salute the operators who take their equipment out, camp overnight and bar some hardship too,  to give the youth of this country an enjoyable Jamboree time.

Stations will be operating for JOTA 2014
Colombo Scouts Head Quarters 4S7RS,
Girl Guides HadQuarters 4S7PL and 4S7NL,
D.S. Senanayake College 4S7DZ, 4S7JL, 4S5SPF,
Avissawella District 4S7CK/4S7KG/4S7VJ,
Mahinda College Galle 4S7SA,
Maliyadeva College Kurunegala 4S6TIS, 4S5DSI assisted by SWLs Tharnga and Prbhath,
Mathugama  CWW Kananagara MV Mathugama.
There maybe a few more stations. Look out of the HF bands and the Yatiyantota Repeater on 145.625, Nuwra Eliya 145.600 for activity.

If you like to help, visit the stations, you are most welcome to do so. Please contact
4S7VJ Wijay  at 0711514498
4S7VK Victor at 0112614098
4S7JL  Jaliya at 0772378108

SPECIAL EVENT STATIONS/OPERATIONS 21/22/23/25TH OCTOBER  MAHINDA COLLEGE GALLE.
To celebrate 100 years of scouting a massive Jamboree has been organised in Galle wih visitring foreign scouts. There will be 3 stations operating from Mahinda College, Galle Samanala Esplanade,  Rumaala Camp Galle.  In addition to facilitate communications between the three camp sites our repeater on 145.650 will operate from Mahinda College as a field repeater. We welcome your support and help in this great event.

Contact/organizers of the amateur radio operations are
Udaya Jayantha  4S5SC  0773660971
Sirimevan 4S7SA 0776960675

73 and the best to all.
Victor 4S7VK
Hony. Secretary RSSL

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