15 Jan 2010

Twitter search for Haiti survivors

The search for missing relatives in Haiti continues, as thousands scour social networking sites Facebook and Twitter for news in the aftermath of the earthquake.

More than 160,000 people have joined the Facebook group, Haiti Earthquake, set up to share information after the disaster in Haiti on Tuesday.

More than 4,700 photos had been uploaded by users this morning, nearly double the number at lunchtime yesterday.

Since we interviewed Shelane Chapman in the video, she has heard that her sister Katia is alive and safe.

As well as some depicting the recent scenes of devastation, the majority were older pictures of friends and loved ones. Most were uploaded with contact details and requests for information.

The international committee of the Red Cross said more than 13,400 people had registered on its family links website, where people can register their whereabouts and ask for details on others.

The Haitian Red Cross estimates the death toll from the 7.0 magnitude quake to stand at between 45,000 and 50,000.

“Help Haiti”, “Haiti” and “Red Cross” were among the most popular topics being used on the microblogging site Twitter.

Organisations and individuals used Twitter to post requests for information on those in Haiti, as well as news on those who have been found.

Twitter messages

Here are just some of the Twitter messages that have been sent:

“MSH has 3 projects working on health in #Haiti – haven’t been able to account for all our employees. DM if you can help or haitiinfo@msh.org” said NGO MSH_Haiti.

Twitter user @InternetHaiti passed on messages from others Tweeting about Haiti:

“RT @lietuva36: Just wanted everyone to know that i located my aunt. She said 31 Delma was damaged slightly. Most everyone there is ok.”

@InternetHaiti: “A huge thank you to [Twitter founder @Biz]! Without Twitter communicating Haiti earthquake was impossible.”

A Twitter account called @haitigoodnews was set up the day after the quake struck to share updates on those who have been found.

“Good News! Estelle Salamon of the creche Nid-d’Amour has been found and evacuated,” said one recent update.

Briton search

Search and rescue workers in Haiti are attempting to trace a British woman missing in the earthquake.

The Foreign Office is working with search and rescue teams to try to locate Ann Barnes, who works as a PA to the UN police commissioner in Haiti. She has not been accounted for after the building she was working in collapsed.

“We have also located and checked on over 30 other Brits, who have confirmed they are safe and well, and are coordinating with US, Canadian and EU partners to facilitate the evacuation of any British nationals who wish to leave Haiti,” said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

Top trends

The Twitter trends map http://trendsmap.com/, which gives a snapshot of the most-common words used by the users’ location, showed the words “Haitian”, “quake” and “charity” were prominent over Europe.

The DEC appeal, which co-ordinates the fundraising effort, thanked Twitter users yesterday: “Support from Twitterers has been amazing today. Tomorrow will be even bigger. Keep #Haiti trending.”

In a sign of the online interest around the world, every minute, people were posting more than 1,500 status updates containing the word “Haiti”, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on the site last night.


, ,