[Updated 2015-04-23 1455 UTC] One of the participants in the just-ended DX0P DXpedition to the disputed Spratly Islands was airlifted from Pag Asa Island after suffering a medical emergency. Chito Pastor, WW6CP, became ill just as the DXpedition was starting to wrap up on April 20.
“The Medevac just arrived half an hour ago!” DXpedition leader Leo Almazan, WA6LOS, told ARRL early on April 23. “Chito is on his way to the hospital!"
Almazan said that he and four other team members were able to return to the Philippines on another flight. The remaining team members will remain on Pag Asa until a Philippine Navy Nomad aircraft takes them off the island on April 24. “From what I heard, they were all busy snorkeling all day,” said Almazan, who is now at his Angeles City home in the Philippines. He said he plans to fly stateside next month for Dayton Hamvention®.
According to Amateur Radio DX.com, an Adventist Medical Aviators Services aircraft that picked up Pastor landed safely in Puerto Princesa.
Members of the Mabuhay DX Group went to Pag Asa Island earlier this month and operated for about 5 days, logging some 5000 contacts. All of the DXpedition participants have roots in or reside in the Philippines.
A Philippines TV news account posted on the InterAksyon.com website on April 22 reported that Pastor developed kidney problems from drinking from the highly saline water supply on Pag Asa after the DXpedition’s drinking water supply ran short. According to the InterAksyon report, a Chinese naval vessel had “harassed a Philippine Air Force patrol flight in the Spratlys” by firing an illumination round on April 21. Almazan told ARRL that the Philippines military later backed away from that account, but the incident caused the postponement of future flights to Pag Asa Island, including the Philippine Navy flight that was to evacuate Pastor.
The military aircraft set to evacuate Pastor later developed mechanical problems, causing further delay, and the Adventist flight was subsequently cleared to make the medical mission on April 23.
The InterAksyon report noted that China “has embarked on an aggressive reclamation and construction spree” in the Spratlys, which are claimed in whole or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries. The Philippines National Telecommunications Commission issued the DX0P license.
Spratly Island is number 75 on the ClubLog DXCC Most Wanted List. Almazan headed a nine-member team to Pag Asa Island.
“I can write a novel about this DXpedition!” Almazan told ARRL.