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Google, Skype Lead Efforts To Find And Help Nepal Earthquake Victims

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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As many as 10,000 could be dead following disaster

Some of the world’s biggest technology firms have launched special resources to help aid the victims of the Nepal earthquake.

This includes Microsoft-owned Skype, which is offering free calls in and out of the country, and Google, which has pledged $1m to the disaster relief effort as part of a major recovery operation.

The quake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck the mountainous Asian nation over the weekend, leaving thousands homeless and many climbers stranded on the treacherous Everest ascent.

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As well as its donation, Google has also announced it has relaunched Person Finder, its service which gives people a way to post and search for family or friends affected by the disaster.

First announced following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Person Finder is open to anyone and is available in multiple languages, including English, Nepali and Hindi.

Those looking to search for loved ones in the region can click on “I’m looking for someone” and type in their name. If you want to let people know you’re safe or have heard from someone in the area, then click on “I have information about someone” and put in their names and details.

To maximise the possible reach of the service, Google has also made the Search function of Person Finder available through SMS in Nepal, India and the U.S.

The company has also cut the cost of making calls via Google Voice from 19 cents to 1 cent a minute, and has uploaded improved satellite imagery of the stricken regions via Google Earth to help those responding in their work to identify impacted areas, locations most in need of aid and evacuation routes.

Google_engineer_Dan_FredinburgTribute

The company also reported the tragic death of one of its company engineers, Dan Freidinburg (pictured left on his Instagram feed), who was killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest triggered by the earthquake.

The 33-year old, who listed his job title as ‘Google Adventurer’ on LinkedIn, worked on several major Google projects whilst at the company, including the creation of data protection and lifecycle management systems, as well as projects such as Google Loon, the company’s balloon-based Internet access effort and self-driving car.

Most recently, Freidinburg had been working as the privacy director at Google’s secretive Google X laboratory, which is the hotbed for many of the company’s most exciting new projects, having previously spawned the likes of Google Glass and Project Wing, a drone-delivery project.

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