Japan earthquake: How to use the Web to check on loved ones and follow news

An earthquake measuring 8.9 in magnitude has hit Japan and the Pacific, causing a tsunami. As the world watches, the Internet is providing ways to find out if family and friends are affected.

An earthquake measuring 8.9 in magnitude has hit Japan and the Pacific, causing a tsunami. As the world watches, the Internet is providing ways to find out if family and friends are okay.

Google's home page currently reads, "Tsunami Alert for New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and others. Waves expected over the next few hours, caused by 8.9 earthquake in Japan." Google is behind a Person Finder that allows you to both search for someone you know and provide information on people.

Google has created a crisis response page with important news, useful links and maps of the quake. The person finder is embedded on the page, which also shows tweets from Twitter users affected.

The earthquake struck just before 6am this morning -- just before 3pm local time -- around 250 miles from Tokyo. The quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, and has caused a tsunami that rocked the port of Sendai City and threatens the entire Pacific -- the wave hit Hawaii at 3am local time (1pm GMT). At least 32 people are reported dead in Japan. The nuclear plant at Fukushima has suffered a failure of its cooling system, but the government says there is no radiation leak.

NHK, Japan's equivalent to the BBC, has up to the minute news in English. You can see video of the quake at YouTube's CitizenTube channel, which shows videos filmed by normal people involved in world events. You can also monitor seismic activity at the IRIS website, or in Google Earth.

Time Out Japan has more information on which trains are running, emergency services and public shelters, as well as a live blog written as the disaster unfolded.

People in earthquake areas are advised to have an earthquake kit for emergencies. Here's some tips from National Geographic about staying safe in a quake.

The Foreign Office has a hotline for anyone worried about British family and friends in troubled areas: call 020 7008 0000. You can contact the British Embassy in Tokyo on +81 3 5211 1100, the British Consulate-General in Osaka on +81 6 6120 5600 or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London +44 20 7008 0000 (from Japan), but we recommend you don't call until you've tried everything else.

Crave hopes everyone affected by the quake is safe and well. But enough of us: what does Duncan from Blue think?

Updated at 3:10pm: Added more links.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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