Tsunami survivors turn to blogs for news, help

One Indian blog reports more than 1 million hits as readers look for information on victims and how to aid devastated areas.

NEW DELHI--An Indian Web log that aims to aid tsunami survivors has reported 1.1 million hits within 10 days of its launch, in a country where blogging is still in its infancy.

The site, called the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog, or SEA-EAT, helps people reunite with their families and aims to bring aid to regions hit by the earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami on Dec. 26.

"It is a blogging landmark not only in India, but all over the world. Nobody has reported so many hits in eight to nine days," Dina Mehta, one of three creators of the blog, said in an interview. Mehta, along with Peter Griffin and Rohit Gupta, have worked to turn SEA-EAT into a resource center for relief operations.

News updates, requests for volunteers, donations and medical help are being posted regularly on the site. Thousands of voluntary groups and aid agencies working in tsunami-hit areas are seeking help and posting their needs on the blog.

Several foreigners lost in the tragedy have been reunited with their families in the United States and United Kingdom after they posted their information and photos on the blog, Mehta said.

The Web log has attracted 50 contributors from affected regions as well as Europe and the United States.

"The blog was initiated by a group of us in Mumbai, but it has very rapidly spread to all corners of the world," Mehta said.

Other blogs operating from affected cities like Chennai have given graphic accounts of the devastation caused by the deadly waves. One such Web log, Kiruba.com, run by Indian blogger Kiruba Shankar, relates news and photos of the disaster and relief efforts.

"There are innumerable blogs out there recording first-hand accounts from the affected zone," Mehta said. "These are powerful and compelling in a way traditional media may never be--because they are real people telling their stories in their voices without filters."

So far, there have been no reports of direct damage to operations of technology companies in Bangalore and Chennai in South India.

Outsourcing giant Infosys said it has an "elaborate disaster recovery plan" in place to deal with natural disasters.

"Our facilities are spread across multiple cities, are earthquake-proof, and we have redundancy built into our communication infrastructure," the company said.

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