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Google Person Finder for Typhoon Yolanda launches

Following Friday's devastating typhoon in the Philippines, Google has launched a Person Finder that allows individuals to post messages and search for the status of family and friends affected by the disaster.

If you're worried about someone, click on the button that says "I'm looking for someone" and type in their name. If you have information about someone in the area, or want to let others know you are safe, click on the button "I have information about someone" and enter the name and details.

"As the number of names and records build, the tool will hopefully make it easier for those who are safe to pass on their news to anyone worried about them," Aileen Apolo, outreach programme manager for Google Southeast Asia, wrote in a blog post.

Typhoon Yolanda made landfall on 7 November in Eastern Samar with winds of 195 mph, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall. The storm caused widespread destruction, killing an estimated 10,000 in the central Philippines, according to Reuters.

The Person Finder is available on Google's Typhoon Yolanda crisis page, along with a relief map offering information about evacuation centres, crisis areas, and relief drop zone areas. The tools are available for anyone to embed on their website, or share via email or social media. Click here for instructions on how to embed Person Finder on your site.

The Person Finder tool is also available on mobile phones. You can request information about someone by sending a text message to 2662999 (Globe subscribers), 4664999 (SMART subscribers), 22020999 (Sun subscribers), or +16508003977 with the message "Search" and the persons name.

Google engineers built the first Google Person Finder after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It has also been used after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the earthquake and resulting tsunamis in Japan. Last year, after Hurricane Sandy, Google's Crisis Response team constructed an interactive map designed to help make sense of the epic weather phenomenon.