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Earthquake update: Kiwis turn to Facebook for news and updates

14 Nov 2016

Kiwis woke to frightening news this morning, with reports of two casualties in the earthquake that struck North Canterbury in the early hours of the morning.

New Zealand’s various telecommunications providers are giving rolling updates on the networks, urging Kiwis to stick to text messaging to keep the lines clear for emergencies.

Meanwhile, Facebook has turned on Safety Check, its emergency feature that enables users to connect with each other during a disaster by "marking" themselves as safe. 

This morning's events has seen many New Zealanders turn to the platform to send thoughts to friends and family in the affected areas. Many organisations and government bodies are also using the social network to provide updates.

“What scary news to wake up to! Thinking of friends and family living in the earthquake hit areas today! Stay safe people! Xx” writes Amy Pratt.

Others shared updated from local bodies, including Wellington City Council who urged people to stay home from work in central Wellington.

“Wellington Regional Civil Defence Controller Bruce Pepperell says early indications are that a number of major buildings are showing “signs of structural stress” and that the strong quake will likely have caused a mess and disruption inside some buildings – particularly on higher floors,” the organisation wrote on its Facebook page.

Wellington City Council advised Wellington residents to listen to Radio NZ (101.3 FM) for further details.

Earthquake Today has shared numerous updates via Facebook, and Fortune and ABC News sharing articles about earthquake and tsunami warning. Australian publication theadvocate.com.au also reported the news on Facebook.

Meanwhile, animal lovers have taken to the social network to help out owners, with the Cool Cat Group offering advice about emergency evacuation packs. Members of the group have said their pets are “completely freaked” with others saying their pets haven’t left their side since the quakes.

Civil Defence has also been reporting updated via their Facebook page NZ Get Thru, with the latest reporting the water supply in Raglan is still affecting, urging residents to conserve water.

The NZ Police have updated their Facebook page, saying they are continuing to respond to calls of damage and requests for assistance following the earthquake this morning.

“Police are working closely with Civil Defence, who are leading the response, as well as Fire, St Johns and other emergency services to ensure the safety of the public. Police staff are continuing to patrol the community and are responding to business as usual, as well as responding to reports of damage and requests for assistance,” the page says.

“Police’s main concern at present is maintain the safety and wellbeing of the public, while still responding to emergencies that may arise.”

The Police have also confirmed two fatalities, “although in both instances emergency services are still working at the scenes at Mt Lyford and Kaikoura. At this stage no further details can be released.”

“While the tsunami warning has been lifted, Police advise people to avoid coastal areas and waterways as tides may still be unpredictable. Updates in relation to these precautions are available on the Civil Defence website.”

The Police say communication still remains an issue for northern Canterbury and Marlborough, which is a priority for network providers.

Techday has reached out to Facebook NZ for information on activity on the social media network. We will keep you updated.

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