Twitter and YouTube were first with news of Christchurch's devastating quake, and quickly became thriving hubs offering ways to find missing persons or help survivors.
By
SBS

23 Feb 2011 - 11:46 AM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2013 - 5:05 PM

Twitter and YouTube broadcast the first reports of Christchurch's devastating quake, and social media's role in the disaster has swiflty evolved to provide ways to find missing persons and help survivors.

"Help out those in NZ. They're earthquaked as...," was the missive sent by one Twitter user, with a link to an appeal for help from the ABC and YouTube sensation 'Beached Az' (you can watch the result below).

"Anyone in Wgtn (Wellington) who wants to volunteer with Chch (Christchurch) EQ SMS service can email me amscraig(at)gmail.com (plz RT)," tweeted Amber Craig to her 409 followers.

Just a few hours after the quake struck, Google launched a people-finder application, and those concerned for their loved ones logged on to Facebook and Twitter.

A crowd-sourced site simply called Christchurch 22 Feb 2011 Earthquake (its URL is shorter than its name) asked people to answer 'who are you and what do you see'. It was quickly linked to a Twitter account named 'SafeinChch', which posts crowd-sourced updates on people confirmed safe.

"Looking for Heloni Clarity aka Helen Clear, an English art teacher based in #ChCh," posted a user named Toria, whose plea was retweeted by 16 others.

"Does she work at Passion for Painting? If so, she's OK, I saw her yesterday," came a reply, less than two hours later from @NZLabourLaw

"Heloni Clarity who worked at Passion for Painting has been confirmed safe," tweeted the @SafeInChch account 10 minutes later, thrilling Toria.

The desperation of others was clear.

"Do you know where to call to find somebody missing? Do somebody (sic) here live there? I search my aunt," posted Mélissa Falardeau on a Facebook page named Christchurch Quake Live, which gained 6,000 followers in under 24 hours.

Media personality Brian Edwards found out that his family had survived the quake via Twitter, then blogged about it.

"Just heard - from total stranger on Twitter - that my daughter and family are ok. He went round to her house for me . Kindness in bad times," he tweeted, four hours after the quake hit.

Edwards then sought to help others find loved ones via the microblogging site.

"Can my NZ friends please RT-looking for American Josh Nagakawa in CHC who works at Oliver and Smith in Riccarton! Any word appreciated," he tweeted on Wednesday.

Large corporations were quick to get in on the act.

"VODAFONE CUSTOMERS: Txt "QUAKE" to 555 donate $5 or to 333 to donate $3! Red Cross earthquake appeal," tweeted the telco.

Others looked ahead, offering help with the process of recovering from the trauma of the disaster.

"Tips for Parents! Be informed and prepared to help your family cope with quake stress!," tweeted @OperationSAFE.

One tweet even showed petroleum giant BPa brief moment of redemption, even though it was the target of a stream of hashtag vitriol over the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2009.

"Thanks to #BP staff in #Kiakorua who were very helpful despite 100s of cars trying to fuel up," tweeted Shane Briggs.