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Nepal earthquake: How tech from Facebook to Google can help survivors

The Nepal Earthquake, which has left over 22 00 people dead, is being seen as one of the worst natural disasters to have hit the country. Here are some technological tools that can help people connect.

By: Express Web Desk |
Updated: April 27, 2015 9:03:30 am
Google People Finder, Nepal Earthquake, Earthquake, Google’s Person Finder will help locate missing people in Nepal earthquake. (Screenshot)

The Nepal Earthquake, which has left over 22 00 people dead, is being seen as one of the worst natural disasters to have hit the country in the last 80 years. Even as thousands of people await rescue, food and shelter, technological tools have made it possible for survivors in the affected areas to connect with their love ones. Below is a compiled list of tools, apps that can be used.

Google Person Finder: Google India’s ‘Person Finder’ will help track missing persons in Nepal. You can access the tool here.

Google’s Person Finder is a free tool that helps friends and family members search for missing persons after a calamity. People can request and provide information about missing persons on the site. Search is also available through SMS in India and the US. Users just have to text “search ” to +91-9773300000 in India or +1-650-800-3978 in the US.

All data which is part of the Google Person Finder is public and anyone can search for it. Press, NGO’s etc can all add to the database and there’s also a Person Finder API to get updates on the same.

Facebook Safety Check: Facebook’s Safety Check feature allows people affected by Nepal’s earthquake to inform their loved ones of their ‘safety status’.

‘Safety Check’, a feature launched by Facebook in October 2014, tracks people (based on profile information or any other check-in updates) in an area that has been struck by natural disasters. Users in the area will be prompted by Facebook to update their status as safe and should do so to let their friends knows of the same.

Viber: In response to the earthquake in Nepal, Viber has switched off ‘Viber Out’ billing so users in Nepal can make free calls to mobile and land line numbers anywhere for the next 48 hours. For those survivors who have access to an active Internet connection, this is a good tool to let their loved ones know that they are safe.

BSNL, MTNL, Airtel, IDEA offer cheaper calls: BSNL will charge all calls made from its network to Nepal as per local rates for the next three days. “All calls that will be made from BSNL network will be charged as per local call rates for next three days,” said BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava. MTNL will also charge local rates for calls made to Nepal for next three days.

Airtel said they will allow free calls to Nepal on its network over the next 48 hours. “As a small gesture during this hour of crisis, we have decided to offer all calls on the Airtel network from India to Nepal completely free of cost for the next 48 hours effective midnight, thus enabling customers across the country get in touch with their families and friends in Nepal.”

Idea Cellular also announced that it will calls made to Nepal from its network at just Re 1 per minute against the regular call rate of Rs 12 per minute.

So far over 2200 people have been killed in Nepal, according to the latest numbers put out by Reuters.

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