Google helps flood victims find missing kin

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Aug 08 2012 12:30 AM | Updated as of Aug 08 2012 09:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - People looking for friends and relatives who have gone missing because of floods spawned by heavy rains in Metro Manila and nearby areas may find help from Internet tech giant Google.

Google has set up a user-generated Person Finder tool to locate people in the disaster-affected areas in the National Capital Region and elsewhere.

The tool, which is in English and Filipino, also allows people to share information about people in the flooded communities.

To search information regarding a person, one only needs to enter a name in the tool and it will provide information based on records in database.

Torrential monsoon rains flooded many parts of the Philippine capital on Tuesday, killing at least 16 people.

Meteorologists said more than half the amount of rain normally seen in August then fell on the city in 24 hours, and warned the deluge would continue overnight and into Wednesday.

Tuesday's deaths brought the number of people killed by the monsoon rains across the Philippines over the past week to 69, according to authorities.

Another 80,000 people in and around Manila were in schools, gymnasiums and other government buildings set up as evacuation centres, according to the government.

However countless others were seeking shelter with friends or relatives, or hoping to wait out the crisis in their homes.

Google also has a user-generated Crisis Map for the Metro Manila floods, wherein people can share information regarding disaster-stricken communities.

It also has resources and links to data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Philippine Red Cross, shelters and evacuation facilities, donation centers, weather updates, YouTube videos, and the flooding extent of the Marikina River.

Google earlier created similar Person Finder and Crisis Map tools during the onslaught of Sendong in Mindanao last year, as well as during the Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear leak disaster.