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Haiti: Search for missing loved ones leads friends and relatives online

January 14, 2010 |  4:48 pm

N245712178935_138In the aftermath of the earthquake that has devastated Haiti, those seeking information about missing loved ones have found a new outlet for their efforts: the Internet and social media.

Individuals in Haiti and abroad have turned to Facebook and Twitter to share information about missing people, coordinate rescue efforts and spread news about conditions in the quake-shattered island nation.

The Facebook Group EARTHQUAKE HAITI, created by members of the non-profit humanitarian organization Operation Blessing International, now has more than  11,000 members who are using its bulletin-board like “Wall” feature to post photos of missing loved ones and share information on charitable organizations.

The Haiti Missing People Board is a similar community-based forum.

News organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, have created Twitter Lists of users posting up-to-the-minute information from Haiti. Twitter users such as @fredodupoux and @RAMhaiti are using the platform to broadcast the locations of survivors trapped in rubble as well as updating those abroad on the conditions in Port-au-Prince.

CNN and the New York Times have established websites where people can upload photos of missing persons to a searchable database.

U.S. citizens with family in Haiti can use e-mail to contact the State Department’s task force, and anyone can submit missing persons information to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Finally, the Haiti Earthquake Support Center is working to provide an innovative database that will use crowd-sourcing to match photos of missing persons with news images from Haiti.

Although search and rescue efforts still depend on the courage and hard work of those on the scene, these new technologies have offered hope and some recourse for those with loved ones caught in the devastation.

Haiti Missing Persons Resources

If you need information or have some to share, here are the best options.

U.S. Department of State

International Committee of the Red Cross

Earthquake Haiti Facebook Group

Haiti Missing Persons Board

Photo Databases

New York Times

CNN iReport

Haiti Earthquake Support Center

Twitter Lists

L.A. Times

N.Y. Times



-- Daniel Siegal

Photo: Earthquake Haiti Facebook Group

Haiti photos
Photo gallery: Earthquake hits Haiti | Twitter: Reports from Haiti | Resources: How to help