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Indonesians Turn to Facebook to Search for Loved Ones

JAKARTA – Indonesians devastated by a deadly earthquake and tsunami have turned to social media sites to search for their missing family members.

“Have you seen any of my family members in these photographs?” asks one user on one Facebook group with 6,843 members, Agence France Press reported.

“I want to know if they are safe there. I haven’t got any information on them until this moment. The connection is still cut off. Let me know if you see them.”

A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28, killing over 800 people and destroying thousands of homes.

With the scale of the disaster still unclear, telecommunications patchy and some areas still out of reach, families are posting photos, descriptions of lost family members and contact numbers in the hope of learning more.

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Similar appeals for help were made by people trying to help friends still in Palu, the city believed to be the worst-affected.

“Please help, anybody in Palu and areas near the city. Family members of my friend are still missing until now,” says one post asking for information about a father, mother and a toddler living in the city.

While many still hope for updates from missing relatives, some appear desperate enough to offer instructions should their corpses be found.

“If someone locates her dead body, please do not bring her to the mass grave because we will pick her up,” said a Facebook post, mentioning the person’s name.

A September 29 post gave the names of some 53 citizens who have been evacuated to an office of PLN — Indonesia’s state-run electricity firm — along with a plea for help.

“Evacuees here are in dire need of food, water, and electricity generator,” the post said.

People from Lombok, an Indonesian resort island hit by a series of major earthquakes in July and August, had a message of solidarity.

“Your sorrow is ours. Your wailing is ours. Hopefully, dead victims are buried in the most beautiful place. Our prayers are always with you,” said the post from Eddie Moodmakerzz.