How tech companies are helping Nepal earthquake relief efforts

Technology companies are banding together in an effort to help victims of the Nepalese earthquake.

The South Asian country was hit by a 7.8-magnitude quake on Saturday, killing 4,310 people and injuring almost 8,000.

Around eight million people are estimated to have been affected by the disaster, leaving many unsure whether their loved ones in the region are safe.

Several tech giants are now offering free or discounted calls to the region. Here’s a list of the companies trying to help:

Apple: The US electronics giant has partnered with the American Red Cross, and is asking iTunes users to donate money through the store for the Nepalese cause.

Facebook: The social network sent Safety Check live on Saturday, offering an easy way to let others know if you’re safe.

This service lets you notify friends that you’re okay, and lets others check up on you.

When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder. “It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters. My thoughts are with everyone who’s been caught up in this tragedy.”

Google: The search engine giant is offering discounted rates for its Google Voice service. Calls in and out of Nepal will be charged at one cent per minute.

The company claims it didn’t make calls entirely free ‘to prevent spammers from abusing our systems and possible adding more load to the already stretched Nepalese telephone network’.

The company has also launched its Person Finder – first unveiled back in 2010 – which lets users say whether they’re ‘looking for someone’ or ‘have information about someone’. It’s a great way to check up on your loved ones in the Nepal region.

Indian telecom operators: A selection of network providers in India have slashed call charges to Nepal, including BSNL, MTNL, Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular.

LINE: Mobile messenger LINE has updated its Premium Call service to allow UK users to call landlines and mobile phones in Nepal free of charge.

Skype: The voice communication software will now let users make calls to landlines and mobiles in and out of Nepal free of charge, with immediate effect.

Microsoft is deeply saddened by the devastating events of the Nepal earthquake and we extend our deepest sympathies to all whom have been impacted,” wrote the US-based tech firm.

It’s not clear when the free Skype calls will end.

US telecom operators: A host of US network providers are offering free calls and texts to Nepal.

This list includes T-Mobile (free calls/texts, April 25 to May 16), Verizon (free calls/texts, April 25 to May 31), Time Warner Cable (free calls/texts to Nepal, India, and China, April 25 to May 25), AT&T (free calls/texts, April 25 to May 16). and Sprint (free calls/texts, April 25 to May 16).

Viber: Customers can use Viber Out to call Nepalese mobile and landline numbers for free.

We’ll continue to update this list…

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor