AREC at the ready following big earthquake in New Zealand

So far AREC (Amateur Radio Emergency Communications) volunteers have not been required in any major way to assist, following the earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred at 4.36am local time Saturday 4 September, while most people were asleep in their homes.

The result was extensive building damage in New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch, with only two people seriously hurt and no one reported trapped or missing.

AREC Deputy Director, Geoff Chapman ZL3PX who lives in Christchurch, said that while AREC was at the Civil Defence Headquarters, there has been no requirement for it to pass any emergency traffic.

That is due to restoration of telephone and power to the majority of the affected areas. While water and sewerage systems have been affected there has been no reported major loss of roads or bridges.

However AREC is ready, as the situation could worsen with the weather bureau issuing a warning of very strong winds with gusts up to 130km/h and heavy rain posing new threats to already damaged buildings.

Adding to the danger are numerous aftershocks with authorities advising that these will continue for many days or weeks.

The ‘quake is New Zealand’s most damaging since the one which hit Napier (Hawke’s Bay) in February 1931, that saw radio amateurs extensively provide emergency communications.

That led to the formation by the IARU national radio society, the New Zealand Amateur Radio Transmitters (NZART) of what is today known as AREC.

Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman, IARU Region 3, Disaster Communications Committee.

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