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Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 09:37 UK

China feels the quake online

Beichuan was badly affected by the quake

Ever since the massive earthquake in China's Sichuan province, people in the affected region have been updating various websites with news from the ground.

Eyewitness accounts and pictures have also emerged on Sichuan forums and bulletin boards.

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SICHUAN CONNECTS ONLINE

As people in the worst-affected parts of Sichuan province spend another night on the streets, the local Chinese-language online forums and bulletin boards have witnessed a flurry of activity.

Urgent...We have received many hits, many net users are trying to find their relatives by posting messages on our site
Chengdu Commercial Daily website
One man walked to Chengdu from an area very close to the epicentre of the earthquake.

On the way to the city he took photographs of deep fissures in the ground, collapsed buildings and abandoned vehicles with his mobile phone.

His photographs were uploaded onto a local bulletin board in Sichuan province.

Another Sichuan forum reports on volunteers getting to the earthquake zone. People on this community comment on rumours circulating about the water quality in Sichuan and reassure one another that drinking water is in fact safe.

Sites previously used for light-hearted social networking such as this food, drink and friendship site for Sichuan now carry banners lamenting "Tragedy in Sichuan".

It has a message from the Red Cross in Chengdu issuing a plea for supplies: "We badly need tents, food, drinking water, umbrellas and medicine". [It lists specific medicines]

The Chengdu Commercial Daily among other sites posts casualty lists from hospitals.

The lists describe the name, age, and the nature of the injury of the patient. People also have the opportunity to exchange information online about loved ones.

The website says it has experienced high levels of traffic from people eager to get news of the injured. "Urgent...We have received many hits, many net users are trying to find their relatives by posting messages on our site."

MICROBLOGGING THE QUAKE
Immediately after the earthquake people across China began to broadcast the tremor on various microblogging services.

map
On Twitter and the Chinese language services Fanfou, Taotao and Jiwai.de users across the country registered the earthquake.

"We just had a massive earthquake. Still alive though..." said inwalkedbud in Chengdu on Twitter shortly after the quake struck.

Updates from the earthquake region are still appearing on Twitter's earthquake watch feed.

Student blogger and Twitter-updater Est Dan Tu has also been posting his Chinese language updates on the situation in Chengdu.

He told the BBC News website that microblogging was his way of updating people about life on the ground.

"I want everybody to know that in our campus, everyone is OK. I have many friends who are twittering right now. Some of them are in Chengdu and in various parts of the nation. Most of them are very concerned about the national disaster," he said.

As the days have gone by, these microblogging platforms have become a way for people to share messages of support and sympathy.

On his Fanfou update, River Crab Ashore - who has been posting live updates - wrote on Wednesday: "Tomorrow evening at 2200, all university student dormitories will have lights off for three minutes as a mark of respect for people who died. Hope it gets support and if you agree with me, spread it around."

Other regular updaters from the earthquake zone include Foxwoods (who updates in Chinese), casperodj and Doggienest (in Chinese).

Global voices has a posted selection of microbloggers by region, including a comprehensive list of posters from Sichuan.

The phenomenon of sharing information and support via sites such as Twitter and Fanfou has been well-documented in the media recently, with the BBC writing a blog post about it and the Ogilvy China Digital Watch blog observing that: "Twitter's public nature was of some real value both for ordinary folk and for professional journalists."

Indeed a number described the earthquake and its aftermath live on various media outlets.

GALVANISING SUPPORT

Appeals have appeared across various forums for people to donate blood for the victims of the earthquake.

"50,000 people now killed. How many children? How many poor people? It is all miserable."
The Douban bulletin board group is devoted to earthquake-related discussion and news appeals to readers to give blood, and lists locations for blood donation.

The Shanghaiist website is also listing all the latest updates on the earthquake in a special page and has a guide to donating for the earthquake.

Chengdoo, an expatriate website for Chengdu, is also organising aid and supplies for victims.

Forums across China are filled with outpourings of sympathy and support, and a keen awareness of the needs of the victims living out on the streets and those who have yet to be rescued.

Microblogger yysr1943 typifies the emotions online with his Chinese language update: "50,000 people now killed. How many children? How many poor people? It is all miserable."


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