Google Launches New Zealand Earthquake Website
Google has created a website to help people locate survivors of the Christchurch earthquake
With reports that up to 150 people are feared dead in the earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand, search engine giant Google has set up a website to help people locate survivors.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 65 people are confirmed dead, but there it has been suggested that over 100 people are unaccounted for, with more than 200 people trapped in collapsed buildings.
The earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and has been described as the worst earthquake to hit New Zealand in 80 years. It struck in the middle of the day, where local time was 12.51pm Tuesday (23:51 GMT Monday in the UK).
New Zealand authorities have already declared a state of emergency amid scenes of widespread devastation, in an area already struggling to recover from a 7.1 magnitude quake last September, that caused significant damage but no causalities.
Dubbed, the Person Finder, Google’s website allows people in Christchurch to upload or request information about individuals. At the time of writing, the new website had records on around 5,200 people.
Google has also created a general crisis response page to the earthquake, which contains emergency telephone numbers, and links to the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, as well as the New Zealand Red Cross for donations.
There are also Twitter links to those feeds related to the earthquake.
Websites such as these are important at this time, considering that many communication lines in New Zealand’s second largest city have been badly damaged or destroyed. People who do make contact with residents are encouraged to upload information to the website.
This is not the first time Google has done this. It and other tech companies offered similar services and donations for victims of earthquakes in Chile and Haiti.
Google, Microsoft, Apple and a variety of other tech companies offered emergency telecoms and mapping data to help with the rescue effory following the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Telecoms Sans Frontieres also helped re-establish communications in Haiti following the deadly earthquake.
Meanwhile the search for survivors goes on through the night in Christchurch.
Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that a UK search-and-rescue team has been deployed to New Zealand to join the relief effort, and he sent the UK’s “deepest sympathies”.
The prime minister said the UK “stood ready” to provide more help at this “dark and difficult time”.
Concerned Britons can contact the Global Response Centre in the UK on +44 207 008 1500 for more information.
For those Britons currently in New Zealand, they can telephone the British High Commission on 04 924 2898 for assistance.