Thursday, March 17, 2011

Praying For Japan

The Tragedy

On Tuesday, March 11, 2011 a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck the Eastern coast of Japan. This was one of the worst earthquakes in the history of mankind and a series of frequent aftershocks, many of them over 6.0 on the Richter Scale, have been felt in various parts of the country for the past one week. What made the matter worse was that the tremors sparked off a massive Tsunami (Japanese for 'Harbour Wave') which devastated large parts of the country with the water from the ocean flooding the adjoining areas and washing away houses, cars, roads and everything else in it's way. Finally, due to the tremors the electric supply to the Nuclear power plants in Fukushima has been cut off, and this has caused some leakage of radioactive particles as the cooling devices have not been working for a few days now.

Light weight planes and cars washed away by the Tsunami
More Photos from The Big Picture: 1, 2, 3, 4.

How Can You Help?


AMERICAN RED CROSS: Emergency Operation Centers are opened in the affected areas and staffed by the chapters. This disaster is on a scale larger than the Japanese Red Cross can typically manage. Donations to the American Red Cross can be allocated for the International Disaster Relief Fund, which then deploys to the region to help. Donate here.
GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Donate here.
SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.
SALVATION ARMY: The Salvation Army has been in Japan since 1895 and is currently providing emergency assistance to those in need. Donate here.
AMERICARES: Emergency team is on full alert, mobilizing resources and dispatching an emergency response manager to the region. Donate here.
CONVOY OF HOPE: Disaster Response team established connection with in-country partners who have been impacted by the damage and are identifying the needs and areas where Convoy of Hope may be of the greatest assistance. Donate here.


INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS: Putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities. Donate here.

SHELTER BOX: The first team is mobilizing to head to Japan and begin the response effort. Donate here.
[Source: Yahoo News]
Like so many other organisations, Google too has been working very hard to help in whatever way possible and we have come up with the following:
Centralized information
Our Crisis Response page—now in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean—organizes all of Google’s efforts, with links to valuable resources such as emergency hotlines, Person Finder, blackout schedules, maps and links to relief organizations receiving donations. Ninety-three percent of mobile users in Japan don’t have top-of-the-line smartphones, so we’ve recentlyoptimized this Crisis Response page to make it more readable for a wider range of devices. You can also access that version by scanning this QR code:

Person Finder
Within the first two hours of the earthquake, we launched Person Finder so people can enter the names of those they’re looking for or have found. You can now also search by entering mobile phone numbers to see if they match any listings. And as with the Crisis Response page, Person Finder has also been optimized for those without smartphones. There are currently more than 250,000 records in the database (including names shared with us by NHK, the national broadcaster in Japan) and we’ve heard several reports of people who have found their loved ones safe.

To help the many people in shelters get word of their whereabouts to loved ones, we’re also asking people in shelters to take photos of the handwritten lists of names of current residents and email them to us. Those photos are automatically uploaded to a public Picasa Web Album. We use scanning technology to help us manually add these names to Person Finder; but it’s a big job that can’t be done automatically by computers alone, so we welcome volunteers with Japanese language skills who want to help out.

Satellite images
We’re also working with our satellite partners GeoEye and DigitalGlobe to provide frequent updates to our imagery of the hardest-hit areas to first responders as well as the general public. You can view this imagery in this Google Earth KML, browse it online through Google Maps or look through our Picasa album of before-and-after images of such places asMinamisanriku and Kesennuma.

Mapping
You can follow developments on the ground by looking at several maps that track changing developments. We’ve mapped rolling blackouts for areas that are affected by power outages. With data given to us by Honda, you can now see which roads have been recently passable on this map or this user-made Google Earth mashup with new satellite imagery. We’re also constantly updating a master map (in Japanese and English) with other data such as epicenter locations and evacuation shelters. And with information from the newspaper Mainichi, we’ve published a partial list of shelters.

Translation
Use Google Translate for Japanese and 56 other languages. You can paste in any text, or enter the address of any web page for automatic translation. We also just released an early experimental version of Google Translate for Android to help non-Japanese speakers in affected areas.

Donations
Visit our Crisis Response resource page to find opportunities to donate. When you donate to Japan relief efforts through Google Checkout, we absorb processing fees—so 100% of your money goes to the organizations. Google has also donated $250,000 to help the people of Japan recover.

To keep up with the latest developments on our efforts in Japan, follow @googlejapan (tweets are mostly in Japanese) or @earthoutreach (for our mapping and imagery efforts) on Twitter.

[Source: Google Blog]

A Daruma Doll
In our Google offices in Gurgaon and Hyderabad for example we are painting the Japanese Daruma Dolls, which the Japanese regard as a talisman of good luck [Source: Wikipedia] We're also sending some notes to the people of Japan [Photos below]





Googlers painting Daruma Dolls in the Gurgaon office
Let's all pray the people of Japan. If there's one country we could count upon to overcome this disaster it would be the Land of the Rising Sun. They've done it before and we're confident they will do so again. God bless Japan.

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