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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nepal earthquake # India's swift response # Google launches 'Person finder''

A severe  earthquake struck Nepal today, the estimate of dead people seems to be going up with many news sites reporting it to be well voer thousand.  It is feared that  death toll is expected to rise. The quake was epicentered 81 kilometres northwest of Kathmandu, with walls crumbling and families racing outside of their homes. Initially measured at 7.5 magnitude, the quake was later adjusted to 7.9, with a depth of 15 kilometres.

India has reacted swiftly.  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of the earthquake. He also phoned his counterpart Sushil Koirala to pledge India's immediate assistance to Nepal. The Prime Minister directed evacuation of tourists and immediate dispatch of relief and rescue teams to Nepal, as well as to affected areas in India. Nearly 125 Indian nationals are stranded in Nepal after the high-magnitude earthquake.         A plane carrying 3 tonnes of medical equipment and a team of 40 members of the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) flew out of Delhi to Kathmandu this afternoon, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar said. More planes and rescue helicopters will take off soon.

According to Business Insider : A massive rescue effort has been planned by the Indian Government and is on its way to Nepal. In a press conference a short while ago, the National Disaster Management Authority said that all possible relief measures are being provided not only to Nepal, but also the affected areas within India, which includes UP, Bihar and West Bengal. The death toll has been rising rapidly and Nepal has requested for all possible help from India, it's closest neighbour. The National Disaster Response Force is sending a total of 10 teams to the affected areas in Nepal. Each team consisting of 45 trained personnel will be carrying along with them a cache of relief equipment including cutting and breathing equipment, airlifting bags, stretchers, medicines, satellite phones, other communication devices such as VHF and HF as well as paramedics and doctors. 6 of these teams will be airlifting from Ghaziabad near the National Capital Region, where as the remaining four will leave from Bhatinda today. The NDRF isn't ruling out sending more teams if required.

In addition, 2 C17 Globemasters have been dispatched to provide further help in the rescue operations in devastated Nepal. M 17 choppers that were sent to Nepal, have returned to India, given they were unable to land because of the bad weather. 4 NDRF teams have also been dispatched to Bihar, where the death toll o the Indian side has been the highest, with as many as 22 deaths reported. A total of 34 people have reportedly died so far in India because of the earthquake, from Bihar, West Bengal and UP. 

A disaster of this magnitude is certainly very bad… here is something on how technology can be utilized. Search engine giant Google has launched an application “Person Finder” to offer information on missing people. Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster, Google said in a blogpost. It is claimed that the  Google tool helped find people in the devastating tsunami in Japan in 2011 and also during the Boston Marathon bombings. Google Person Finder is a project of the Google Crisis Response division of Google.org, built by Google engineers in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to help those affected by the earthquake.

Google has launched its Person Finder service to help track missing people of massive earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude that hit Nepal.  Users can go here to use the Person Finder service and can share and look for information about missing persons affected by the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The Person Finder website allows anyone to list a person missing and to search the database for names. The interface is very simple to use. If you have any information about someone, go to the right (blue) box and enter the details. And if you are looking for someone, go to the left (green) box, enter the person's name or parts of the name to know the status about him. You can also create a new record for the missing person.

All data entered are available to the public and viewable and usable by anyone. Google does not review or verify the accuracy of this data.  Google Person Finder is written in Python and hosted on Google App Engine. Immediately after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Google employees worked together to develop Person Finder. The software was based on previous work on the September 11 survivor registry and on the PFIF data standard.

With grief – S. Sampathkumar

25th Apr 2015 # 22:04 hrs

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