FW: [TrojanARC] news article on VU4RBI

Pratt, Frank Frank_Pratt at sra.com
Mon Jan 3 07:00:43 CST 2005


-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Frahm K0BJ [mailto:bfrahm at colby.ixks.com] 
Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2005 8:28 PM
To: TrojanARC at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [TrojanARC] news article on VU4RBI

Not sure where this first appeared... I found it on the KC DX Club reflector.  "Bharti" is Bharathi VU4RBI who is now in many happy DXers logbooks.

A Delhi woman in the Andaman islands has become the centre of a multi-nation effort by ham operators to unite thousands of families separated by the killer waves.

The Andamans account for about a third of India's reported death toll of 11,330 but thousands more are missing or have been separated from families in the archipelago's 572 islands because of massive damage to harbours, bridges and local ferry services.

A grateful Indian army is supporting 46-year-old Bharti Prasad with gear and batteries as the Delhi-based housewife has networked ham operators across the nations to reunite families and help in relief and rescue operations.

Ham radio buffs had not been permitted to operate in the Andamans since
1987 but the ban was lifted in November. Prasad was among the first to arrive to help establish a radio footrprint in the string of islands near Thailand.

"We arrived here on December 15 to support Andamans as a radio country ...
Amatuer stations across the world wanted a footprint in these beautiful islands," Prasad told AFP in the capital of Port Blair.

"I did not expect a disaster like this. It is no longer a game and now we must help," Prasad said as her headset crackled with tsunami-related traffic from a high-frequency radio band spanning three megahertz to 30 megahertz.

"When the tidal waves struck, we just turned the beacon towards India and since then, we have been flooded with messages which we relay on local telephone lines," she said.

"Hams have also advertised in newspapers asking people to get in touch with us, and in that way, we are uniting families broken up by Sunday's waves,"
added Prasad. She has already handled around 30,000 emergency calls since disaster struck the tropical paradise.

"The only thing I am now afraid of is our telephone bill," said Prasad.

Mothers were separated from their children and husbands from their wives in the desperate scramble to escape the killer waves.
Further chaos ensued
when rescuers randomly plucked survivors from islands and sent them to special shelters.

"I thought I had lost my family but soon an official told me that he had received messages from a 'radio station' that all my relatives were safe in Port Blair," said survivor Roby Dey in the devastated island of Car Nicobar.

The "radio station" was none other than Prasad, a military rescuer said in Car Nicobar. Amateur stations in Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai are now linked with Prasad and the network is growing beyond Indian territory, said Suresh Babu, one of her five co-volunteers.

"Bharti, we are now on airnet. You take care. You are the Angel of the Seas. Without you out there, rescue will halt," a voice from Indonesia crackled in her hotel room, badly-damaged by Sunday's devastation.

Prasad and the other five ham operators now work round-the-clock from the hotel room where erratic power and water supplies have added to their difficulties.

"We are also helping the administration to streamline relief in Andamans as well as serving as a broadband listening post for stray SOS signals," said Prasad, a prominent member of the National Institute of Amateur Radio.

  Source -
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Bruce Frahm  KØBJ

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