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Internet provides communication, aid to Haiti

January 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The earthquake took out many of the main lines of communication for Haiti. Now the Internet is providing a valuable resource for people trying to reach loved ones or help victims.In the minutes after Haiti's devastating earthquake, most vital services were down. Telephones weren't working, power was out, vast stretches of Haiti were cut off from the rest of the world. But that didn't last long.

Messages began trickling out of the leveled city, posted on the social networking site Twitter, saying that the presidential palace collapsed. And soon photos of the palace began hitting the Internet.

Carel Pedre, a Haitian radio and television host, has been using the voice-over-Internet software SKYPE to share his earthquake experience with the rest of the world. He was interviewed on CNN.

"Every two steps you take, you see a building that's collapsed," said Pedre. "I saw a lot of people falling down and I see that the whole world is shaking. That's when I realized it was an earthquake."

Tim De Tellis, a charity worker in Haiti, got his story out via Twitvid.

"We have five buildings here on the mission camp that's right on the ocean that have been destroyed by this earthquake," said De Tellis.

Meanwhile, people outside of Haiti are leaning on the Internet hoping to track down friends or family missing in the quake zone. "Heroes" Actor Jimmy Jean Louis posted a plea for help on YouTube in an effort to get in touch with his family in Haiti.

"I've been trying to reach my family for the whole day," said Louis online. "Can't get in touch with my mom, dad, cousins, uncles, and friends."

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Internet is also being used for Haiti relief efforts.

Wyclef Jean is a Haitian musician and a member of the band The Fugees. He leveraged his musical success several years ago to set up a Haitian charity called Yele Haiti. Wednesday that site was set up to accept donations for earthquake relief. Jean putting out the word through his Twitter account.