Social media vital to disaster relief

By Yang Xi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 24, 2013
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A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan, Ya'an city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, at 8:02 a.m. Saturday morning. Information about the earthquake released on Sina Weibo by media, rescue teams, NGOs as well as companies has gone viral in less than three hours after the disaster. Social media has again shown itself to be an efficient platform for information exchange and a lifeline of those affected by the disaster.

The first post about the earthquake was published online several minutes after the disaster, and Lushan earthquake quickly became a trending topic on Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like microblogging site.

CCTV reported on the number of casualties through its official microblog at 11 a.m. Saturday, and was reposted 5,000 times after the first hour. Local paper Sichuan Daily also published pictures of disaster areas on its Sina microblog.

Communication devices in disaster areas have been seriously damaged. Operators reported progress of their rescue work through their microblog accounts. Chongqing Mobile called users to contact with others through text messages instead of phone calls to save communication resources.

One Foundation, the first private charitable fundraising organization in China, began to send relief supplies to the disaster area at 9:25 a.m. Saturday. Posts about its charitable activities have been reposted many times and it has gained more support. A nongovernmental rescue organization has assembled relief supplies across the country and learned about demand in the stricken area through microblogs.

Baidu Foundation and Tencent announced through Sina Weibo that they plan to donate 5 million yuan (about 809,000 USD) to the disaster area. Sina would not only make a donation but also launch platforms for donation projects free of charge.

Alipay, a third-party online payment platform, said in its microblog that it was working for a donation project for quake-hit areas and called for microblog users to log into to make a donation.

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