Amateur Radio Operators Respond To Island Disaster

This week amateur radio came through again, responding to the tsunami disaster at Wasabi Island.  Wasibi Island is a little-known island in the south Pacific inhabited by about 300 people which suffered a devastating category nine tsunami two weeks ago.  Wasabi Island is also a rare DXCC entity, having been in the top 15 most wanted DXCC entities list for nearly two decades.

The Pileup DX Society reacted quickly to the disaster.  Bob Peters, president of the esteemed society, assembled a crew within days of the disaster.  ”After hearing about the disaster we called up our top donors and within hours we had a team assembled.”  The Wasabi team was luckily able to quickly book commercial flights into Chile and charter a cargo ship in Santiago.  They landed on the beach on Wasabi Island three days later.  Within hours they were on the air with many amateurs in North America and Europe working the phone and CW stations on 20 meters, bagging the rare DX country.

“The island is devastated” informed team leader Tom Biznosky over a satellite phone call.  ”There’s no power on the island and no clean drinking water.  Luckily we brought generators, and plenty of fuel and water, so we can easily operate the stations for the next two weeks.  Sleeping conditions on the island have been awful, so we’ve been shuttling operators to the ship where they can get showers and sleep in air conditioning.”

The disaster conditions have made things difficult for the team.  ”The island has been flattened, so it has been very difficult to find any trees to string up dipoles on the lower bands.  On top of that, one of our 12 linear amplifiers which were donated stopped working.  The 10 meter phone station has been running barefoot.” said Biznosky.  ”But despite the setbacks, out team remains in good spirits.”

Amateurs are asked to stay clear of the Wasabi island frequencies as all stations are operating split.  Amateurs should go between 5 and 50 kilohertz above the Wasabi Island transmit frequencies when making their calls.  Look for Wasabi on all bands, on CW, phone, PSK and RTTY.  QSL direct to the QSL manager shown on the Pileup DX Society website (click on Wasabi Island disaster).  Donations to support the operation may also be made on the website.


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