Chapter Eighteen: Mobile Emergencies, Mobile Phones: The Hidden Revolution
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Mobile Emergencies, Mobile Phones
The Hidden Revolution
IMOGEN WALL AND KYLA REID
When local news journalist Erel Cabatbat arrived in Tacloban in the central Philippines, hours after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, he was expecting to report on one of the biggest disasters ever to hit his country for his company, GMA. Instead, he found himself running an ad hoc family reunification service. Erel, who, as a reporter, had a working phone, found himself surrounded by survivors desperate to get a messages to loved ones. ‘I have pages full of the numbers of people who begged me to text their families and let them know they were OK’, he says. In particular, he remembers one doctor, covered in mud, who had walked the five miles to the airport in the hope of finding someone who could contact his children. ‘I managed to send them text messages and posted on my Twitter account and they called me back and told me that they were coming to Tacloban to take him to safety.’ As the BBC also reported, other journalists returned from reporting trips with hundreds of scraps of paper, on which were scrawled the numbers of relatives.
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