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Online Tools Help People Connect After Boston Marathon Bombing

Even as the shock and horror of the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon had yet to subside Monday, people were turning to online tools to check on the safety of their friends and family who were at the event. The latest estimates of the casualties include more than 3 dozen people injured, with two dead.

As has been the case in previous calamities, Google and the Red Cross helped to connect people with runners, spectators, and volunteers who were at the race.

Here are several tools that came into use today:

The Boston Globe offered ways for stranded runners to find a place to stay for the night; a separate form allowed area residents to sign up. The paper's @GlobeMarathon feed tweeted a link that showed dozens of offers had poured in.

Boston's police department is announcing updates on its Twitter feed, including instructions to the public and warnings of police activity. People can also call the police to ask about victims, at 617-635-4500.

The Boston Marathon's site allowed users to track runners by their bib number, as is normal during a race. But it became a way for those far from the scene to see when their loved ones finished the race, or what checkpoint they had reached when it was halted.

Google's "person finder" tool provided a way for people to enter information about someone, or to search for friends or family members.

The Red Cross offers a similar service with its Safe and Well tool, but the website appeared to be suffering from traffic overloads Monday afternoon.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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