Twitter feeding real-time reports of Haiti devastation
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:15PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:42AM EDT
Twitter and other social networking sites are buzzing with witness accounts of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, with pleas for help and countless photographs posted of the aftermath.
Local DJ and TV personality Carel Pedre has been in the epicenter of news coverage since the 7.0 quake struck the island nation Tuesday night. He's been feeding eyewitness reports to news organizations around the world via his Twitter feed.
His images of the quake's aftermath have been picked up by many news organizations including CTV, CNN, and the Associated Press. His recent urgent tweets include "1st After Shock of the Day!!!' -- and calls for Digicel Haiti to help add minutes to his cell phone plan so he can continue posting reports.
Twitter also features a PicFog -- a realtime display of harrowing images of the wreckage, dead bodies and the injured from Haiti that are being "Twitpic'd'. (Warning: there are graphic images, and it's difficult to tell at times where photos originated from or whether they're authentic.)
Haitian-born hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean was among the first to launch an appeal for international aid through his Twitter page, which gets 1.3 million followers.
On his last tweet posted just before 8 a.m. ET Wednesday, Jean wrotes that he's on his way to Haiti via the Dominican Republic. His publicist Wednesday afternoon said that Jean has arrived in Haiti.
"Please urge [your] council men governors etc we need a state of emergency for Haiti," he wrote this morning, before posting a link to Yele Haiti, a charity his band The Fugees set up to help Haitians improve their living conditions. Hundreds of people were re-tweeting Jean's messaging by the minute, with the Yele website crashing under the traffic.
Meanwhile, Internet video site YouTube is posting in its "Spotlight" section some of the only footage immediately available following the quake -- including cellphone video clips of injured people being carried through the streets of Port-au-Prince and Haitians standing in the rubble, some looking stunned.
Another video shows cellphone footage revealing vast clouds of dust rising up after the quake struck, shot from the vantage point of what appears to be a balcony, as a woman breathlessly describes the scene in French.
"There was an earthquake and then a fire and then .... the fire was there, that thing over there," she says in French, pointing to the scene below, "and then we rested here and now we're here." At the end of the video, she exclaims in English: "The world is coming to an end!!"
Meanwhile, charities that have used social networking sites are reporting positive responses, including Oxfam.
"The people of Haiti need your support. pls help now by donating 2 our Haiti Earthquake Response Fund," says the latest tweet by the aid organization.
Red Cross Canada warns, however, that Canadians wouldn't be able to make donations via their mobile devices through text message campaigns circulating on Twitter -- as they only work on U.S.-based cellphones.
Aid groups are pleading with users to give their money to reputable, trusted non-profit organizations and beware of scams.
Meanwhile, Oxfam has its own correspondent, Louis Belanger, who is en route to Haiti. He will be using the audio blogging site ipadio to deliver audio reports.
Oxfam says in its latest press release via Twitter: "More than 85 per cent of people in Haiti already live in poverty. With major buildings destroyed it is likely that less well-constructed homes will be even more seriously affected. This earthquake is grim news for the poor people of Haiti. We are calling for the generous support of the U.K. public to help us save lives."