Earthquakes in Spain 11/May/11

Received from Greg Mossop, G0DUB IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinator:

Two earthquakes of magnitudes M4.4 and M5.2 struck the Region of Murcia (southeastern Spain) in the evening of 11th April, causing at least 8 dead and 167 wounded in the town of Lorca, due mainly to debris falling from some buildings.

The Spanish Government has activated the National Plan for Earthquake Risks, sending to the area the following resources:  Military Unit for Emergencies (225 people equipped for Search and Rescue tasks), National Police and Civil Guard (400 people plus SAR dogs and gear to work underground, two trucks for special tasks and three helicopters) and the Spanish Geological Survey (mobile SATCOM unit).

The Spanish Red Cross has sent to the area 24 ambulances, 3 field hospitals and 6 teams to provide shelter facilities for 3.750 people. The Murcia Regional Authority is co-ordinating the operations through its 112 Operations Center and a Mobile Command Post, providing also more than 100 ambulances and a field hospital. Local police and firefighter teams are also working in the area.

It is estimated that around 20.000 people spent the night out of their homes due to aftershocks ranging from M0.7 to M4.0. The local hospital in Lorca has been evacuated due to some structural damages.

The REMER (Red Radio de Emergencia, Emergency Radio Network), an official emergency unit of the Spanish National Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies (DGPCE) made up of amateur radio operators, was deployed to the affected areas as one of the emergency communications assets enlisted in the National Plan for Earthquake Risks. REMER units used VHF simplex and repeater links to provide additional communication channels with the authorities.

A national network in HF was also activated to send real-time information to the DGPCE HQ in Madrid. As a government unit, REMER usually uses frequencies outside the amateur bands to pass emergency traffic.

The telecommunications companies operating in Spain deployed also 6 mobile base stations to the area in order to accommodate the expected increase in GSM traffic.

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