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Internet, cellphones are aiding the search

STOCKHOLM -- On hundreds of websites worldwide, the messages are brief but poignant: "Missing: Christina Blomee in Khao Lak" or "Where are you?" Some are nothing more than names, ages, nationalities. Others list details of where loved ones were last seen. Some have pictures of the missing.

All convey the aching desperation of people from Italy to the United States seeking news about family or friends caught in the earthquake and tsunami waves that ravaged southern Asia.

Websites and blogs have become the announcement boards and lost and founds for a disaster that has left many thousands of people unaccounted for, including 2,000 to 3,000 Americans and thousands more Europeans and other non-Asian visitors to the region.

On the British Broadcasting Corp.'s website, dozens of people posted notes seeking someone.

"Does anyone have news of my colleague Chuck Kearcik and his wife Melinda and children Candice and Charlie (US citizens working in Kuwait, vacationing in the Maldives)?" asked Andy of Kuwait City.

Cheryl Boehm of Houston searched for her father, Jesse L. Adams. "He is an American citizen and is retired living on South Pattaya Beach. Please contact me with any information as I have no way to find or communicate with him right now! Please help me find my Dad!!"

Another, Jaclyn Higgs of California, pleaded for help in finding her family. "I am desperately trying to contact my 4-year old son Aidan Ashburn-Higgs and his father Jeffrey Ashburn who both flew into Thailand on Sunday. I have not heard from them since they left the airport in San Francisco. If you see this, please let me know you are safe."

Others sent text messages from across continents in a bid to find those who are missing.

In Sweden and Denmark, mobile phone operators stopped charging for mobile calls to and from Southeast Asia for 48 hours to make it easier for survivors to get in touch with their families.

"We thought it would be a nice move from cellular phone companies," said Robert Neimanas of the Swedish group Telia's branch in Denmark.

The Swedish companies also sent text messages to all Swedish-registered phones in Thailand, asking subscribers to call their families or the Swedish Embassy.

In the Nordic nations, blogs and Internet bulletin boards were rife with queries about people among the 2,700 missing Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes.

One message, from Glen Barlow, said: "We are looking for Nigel, Lotta, and little Alec from Sweden." It adds details about Briton Nigel Atterbury, his Swedish partner Liselott Hallberg, and their 3-year-old son, Alec.

One of the lucky few, Barlow posted another message less than six hours later saying the family had been found and was flying home.

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