Nepal Earthquake: People Around the World Scramble Online to Find Loved Ones

Patan durbar square historic infrastructure in Kathmandu, Nepal greatly damaged due to the massive earthquake. Image by Sumit Shrestha. Copyright Demotix (25/4/2015)

Patan durbar square historic infrastructure in Kathmandu, Nepal greatly damaged due to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Image by Sumit Shrestha. Copyright Demotix (25/4/2015)

An overwhelmed Nepali government has declared a state of emergency appealing to the international community following a massive 7.8 earthquake, which struck close to noon on April 25, between Nepal's key cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, resulting in more than 1,800 deaths.

In the midst of this crisis, people are using tools like Google Person Finder and Facebook Safety Check to find loved ones. Google Person Finder launched in 2010 in response to the earthquake in Haiti and helps people find each other in the aftermath of a disaster, by downloading or uploading data from the site.

Facebook users have also been using the site's newly launched Safety Check tool, where you can mark yourself or a friend in the disaster area as ‘safe’.

Screen shot 2015-04-25 at 8.42.40 PM

These are particularly helpful against the distressing images that have been shared online.

With phone lines and cell towers down, people are also trying to contact loved ones through the Internet.

Only Krishna Mandir and Taleju Temple left standing in Patan Square. Image by Kunda Dixit. Used with permission

Only Krishna Mandir and Taleju Temple left standing in Patan Square. Image by Kunda Dixit. Used with permission

Social media check

Many are relying on social media sites for changes on the ground.

Widespread destruction

The historic tower of Kathmandu, which people use to climb to catch a glimpse of the magnificent city, is gone.

In the midst of this destruction, hospitals in the capital Kathmandu have been declared inundated. Many  are being treated outside.

India, Bangladesh and Tibet

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake has caused loss of life in India, Bangladesh and Tibet as well. People are being rescued from under collapsed buildings. The earthquake also affected the base camp at Mount Everest, where it triggered an avalanche.

The earthquake triggered a wave of fear in the region and as per latest reports 54 people died across the border in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh in India. Three people have died in three districts of Bangladesh as tremors jolted the country.

Fear of aftershocks

According to some reports, this was a shallow earthquake, making it prone to the terrifying shaking that was felt by all in the region. It is feared that given the nature of the earthquake, and the flimsy state of many buildings in the capital, mainly the older ones, it will not take much for a slight aftershock to result in further destruction and deaths.

It is a time when many feel helpless.

And a time of enormous uncertainty.

According to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, Nepal and the region is to continue experiencing constant large aftershocks. The situation may be far from safe.

At the moment, fear of aftershocks has kept many waiting outside their homes.

Some relief is arriving through relief organizations like Oxfam, Save the Children, the Red Cross as well as through the government of India. Here is a link to some charities doing relief work following the earthquake.

The senior vice president of the Times of India tweeted:

On Facebook, some have thanked India for this gesture. The damage that has been shared through Twitter, however, suggests that a lot more help will be needed, and fast.


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