Facebook, Skype, and Twitter are proving to be the best way for people living in Japan to communicate as the nation struggles to deal with the effects of a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake in northern Japan and subsequent tsunami. At least 300 people have died in the disaster so far and there are more than 500 people missing.
Telephone networks were extremely congested so carriers like NTT DoCoMo are severely restricting incoming voice calls, particularly in the northeast which was hit by tsunami waves that reached 30 feet (10 meters) in height. Subscribers say they have been able to contact friends and family using DoCoMo, but not on other networks. Residents say they can’t send text messages or make voice calls. Carriers like Au and Softbank were also affected by the disaster. NTT DoCoMo restricted its incoming telephone calls by up to 80 percent.
“Facebook and Skype are proving to be the best ways to stay in touch” said Brian Chapman a journalist living in Tokyo. Chapman said a lot of people forced to spend hours walking home because subways don’t work can be seen talking on their mobile phones, but there are also long lines for every pay phone that functions.