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Japan earthquake & tsunami: Stay informed, find your friends

Patrick Miller and Alex Wawro | March 11, 2011
Whether you're simply looking to stay current on the news about the recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and is currently reverberating across the Pacific Ocean, or you're looking for ways to find information on your affected friends and family, we have a few tips that might help.

If you don't use Twitter, Facebook has similar capabilities as a real-time news and communication hub. For starters, try running a search for hot topics like "Japan" or "tsunami" in the "Posts by Everyone" section to keep abreast of what everyone is talking about. To share news and information, consider liking the Asahi Shimbun Facebook page. Facebook has also set up a page specifically for sharing news and information about the disaster, but please don't "Like" the Japan Earthquake.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere, has a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center page with earthquake information and updates from the U.S. Geological Survey. There is also a Google Map of where and when the tsunami wave is expected to arrive on shores across the world based on U.S. Geological Survey data.

Find your friends and family in Japan

There are a handful of tools and utilities available for you to try and verify the safety of your friends and family in Japan, but keep in mind that none of them are fool-proof, especially if they rely on the currently-overloaded cellular networks.Google (GOOG) has released a version of their Google Person Finder, currently localized in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese. Currently, this database depends on self-reported information--you can search for a person by name, and it will return with any information that someone else has put into the database about that person. If you have confirmation that your affected friends and family are okay, please consider adding that information to the Person Finder database by clicking I have information about someone.

Also, Google Crisis Response has launched a 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami hub with the latest news, updated maps and a growing list of useful resources for finding out more about the quake. Currently, you can access public data records, updates on the Japanese power grid and even Japanese train schedules, which could help you locate your loved ones.You can also check in via cell phone number--each of the major Japanese cell networks has a simple disaster board that can check to see if they've left any messages with their respective network's message board, whether it's NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, or KDDI AU.

The U.S. Department of State has launched a succinct Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami page with travel alerts and contact information for making missing person inquiries. To confirm the safety of a U.S. citizen in Japan, send a concise inquiry to: japanemergencyusc@state.govTo confirm the safety of a U.S. citizen anywhere in the tsunami zone save Japan, send your inquiry to: PacificTsunamiUSC@state.gov

 

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