By: Jim Linton VK3PC

The worst flooding in decades in part of Thailand caused by heavy monsoon rain over the past two weeks has claimed at least 56 lives and affecting 940,000 homes in 32 provinces.

The Bangkok Post newspaper has reported that amateur radio operators in Nakhon Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum are helping authorities coordinate rescue and relief efforts.

The IARU member Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) on its website reports that the communications talents and capabilities of radio amateurs are being put to good use.

Nakhon Ratchsima is Thailand’s biggest province, which has a population of 2.7 million in 32 districts with 3,700 villages.

The natural disaster has destroyed more than 80,000 hectares of rice paddies, most just weeks away from harvest time that provides many farmers with their annual source of income.

The Nakhon Ratchasima Amateur Radio Association (NRARA) has set up a coordinating centre using the call sign HS3AN.

Located at the provincial hall, it has been working closely with government agencies, relaying details about the emergency situation to officials and relief workers.

NRARA President, Charnchai Siriamornpan HS4XU, said amateur radio operators had also pitched in to help soldiers, volunteers and foundation workers get food to flood victims and ferry women are in advanced stages of pregnancy to hospital.

The Bangkok Post said that government licensed amateur radio users are allowed to communicate with one another using VHF and HF (short wave) radio communications.

They often operate in areas where mobile phone signals can’t reach.

(Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman, IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee)