Facebook has activated its ”Safety Check” feature in response to the earthquake in Nepal. The feature, launched in October, allows users to tell friends and family they are safe if they are in the middle of a disaster area.
Facebook engineers in Japan started development on the feature after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The Kathmandu earthquake was one of the first natural disasters where it has been used.
Google, which lost an employee in an avalanche as a result of the earthquake, has activated its own disaster tool called ”Person Finder” https://google.org/personfinder/2015-nepal-earthquake/ and is updating satellite imagery to help with relief efforts. Google is also donating $1 million toward relief efforts, the company said.
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Japan says it will provide emergency relief goods such as tents and blankets worth 25 million yen ($210,000) to Nepal, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency following the massive earthquake on Saturday.
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In Kathmandu, those who came to help are frightened, too. Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal says tents and water are being handed at 10 locations in Nepal’s capital, but that the many aftershocks were leaving everyone jittery.
He says thatÂ ”even the rescuers are scared and running because of them.”
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There’s a bottleneck in the efforts to get relief to Nepal. The good news: Kathmandu’s airport is open. The bad news: It’s been a bumpy, frustration-filled experience for those arriving. The second bit of good news: Some aid vehicles have been able to travel overland from Indian to the stricken Nepalese city of Pokhara.
Ben Pickering, Save the Children’s humanitarian adviser in Britain, calls that a positive sign. He emphasizes this, though: ”The airport opening is a small miracle.”
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Nepal’s Deputy Inspector General of Police Komal Singh Bam says at least 3,218 people have been confirmed killed in Saturday’s earthquake. So far 18 people have also been confirmed dead in an avalanche that swept through the Mount Everest base camp in the wake of the earthquake. Another 61 people were killed in neighboring India.
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In a western part of Kathmandu, dozens of Nepali soldiers and Indian rescue workers pulled 16 bodies and one survivor from a collapsed green, three-story building that housed a church. Officials say a Christian meeting was being held on the second floor when the quake hit on Saturday.
One Indian national disaster response force, who did not want to be named, said ”I really doubt anybody is alive here, but we have to keep trying and look.”
The bodies were laid out, side by side, on a tarp, as crowds of onlookers were kept behind police tape. Several generators were set up to power the drills and saws used to dig through the building. Several other buildings in the area were damaged, but most appeared fine.