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Haiti missing-persons site gets quick response
Associated Press
2010-01-15 01:14 AM
More than 5,000 people registered on a special Red Cross Web site a few hours after it was launched to help Haitians find loved ones missing in the earthquake, an official said Thursday.

The quick response was aided by people spreading the link on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but also by the fact that many satellite Internet connections in the Caribbean nation appear to be working, said Marcal Izard, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"The list is growing rapidly. We now have around 5,000 names on it," Izard told The Associated Press. "Over 250 persons registered from Haiti itself, which is a very good result in such a short period."

Of those, about 200 were searching for missing family members, while 50 people logged on to say they had survived Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 quake near the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Many visitors to the site were from the United States and Canada, which have large Haitian communities, Izard said.

The Geneva-based humanitarian agency has a long tradition of helping to reunite families separated by war and disaster, and it first launched a Web site for this purpose toward the end of the war in Bosnia in the 1990s.

"Compared to previous disaster lists, this one is growing very fast _ much faster than, for instance, the 2004 tsunami," Izard said. It killed 230,000 people across Asia.

"Satellite and Internet connections have improved so much over the years, not to mention social media," he said, adding that sites such as Facebook and Twitter have an "amplifier effect" because of the ease with which they can be used to spread information.

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