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Nepal Earthquake Spurs Tech Companies to Action

After a devastating earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, tech companies are hoping their products can help provide much-needed relief.
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/ Source: NBC News

After a devastating earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, tech companies are hoping their products can help locate loved ones and provide much-needed relief services.

As of Monday, the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake had topped 3,800, with rescue workers expecting to find more casualties in the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kathmandu and surrounding villages.

Humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross are scrambling to provide relief aid to the region. In Silicon Valley, companies might not be sending boots on the ground, but many are offering their technology both to those in need and to people who just want to help.


The communication app is now providing free calls to any phone number within Nepal through its Viber Out service, which normally provides international calls at discounted rates.


The company lost one of its own executives, Dan Fredinburg, when the earthquake caused an avalanche on Mount Everest.

Now Google is offering Google Voice calls to Nepal for a penny a minute, down from 19 cents a minute. "We chose 1 cent, instead of making calls free, to prevent spammers from abusing our systems and possibly adding more load to the already stretched Nepalese telephone network," Payal Patel, product manager for Google Crisis Response, wrote in a blog post.

Google also launched Person Finder in English, Nepali, Hindi and other languages after the earthquake hit. Click "I'm looking for someone" to search for a loved one's name or "I have information about someone" to provide it.

For those without access to a computer, the service can also be reached by typing "search " to 6040 in Nepal, 91-9773300000 in India and 650-800-3978 in the United States.


On the official Twitter India account, the company is posting emergency information, maps and more to help people connect people with emergency workers and aid groups.


The social network's Safety Check feature lets users in the disaster area tell friends and family they are safe, and lets users around the world check the status of people they know.

The social network also announced that it's matching every dollar donated up to $2 million to the International Medical Corps.


The crowdfunding site has set up a page for charities and individuals looking to raise money for relief efforts. More than $30,000 has been given to OrphanGift in the name of Google executive Fredinburg to support those orphaned by the earthquake. Donations can also be made to major organizations like UNICEF and smaller ones like the Sahyog International Foundation, which helps special needs children in the Himalayas.

T-Mobile and Sprint

Both companies have waived all fees for calls and texts coming in and out of Nepal until May 16. T-Mobile and Sprint are also letting people text donations to aid organizations.


Microsoft announced that it's providing free Skype calls to landlines and cellphones in Nepal and donating a minimum of $1 million to rescue efforts.