SHENZHEN, China, April 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Social networking websites are playing an increasingly important role in dealing with major disasters. According to data from China's leading social networking website Qzone, there have been more than 33 million posts concerning the earthquake in Ya'an. More than 4 million people have signed up for the "Ya'an -- Cheer up!" seal operated by Qzone, while the number of "Cheer for Sichuan" gifts has exceeded 16 million, demonstrating the clear advantage that social networking websites have in delivering messages quickly following a catastrophic event. Social networking websites show strength as individuals in the afflicted areas send safety updates online Qzone and Weibo, among others, started to update information with regard to quake-struck Ya'an immediately after the disaster happened. Many people assisted in the search for victims by filing missing person reports. The active user base of social networking websites closed the information gap by posting real time quake-related messages online. More than 33 million messages concerning quake-struck Ya'an have been sent to date. A media executive who uses Qzone, wrote: "I found out on Qzone that my brother and sister had gotten in touch with each other and confirmed that my family was safe. Best wishes for my hometown, family and friends." Yu Yongcong from Zigong, Sichuan Province asked about his high school friends who were now studying at Sichuan Agricultural University in Ya'an, and was finally able to get in contact with some of them on Qzone. Rescuers suggest that people studying or working in Sichuan should contact their families as soon as possible by telephone or by any available communication tool, so that the limited rescue resources can be deployed where most needed. Qzone creates a communications bridge with the launch of a people finder In order to initiate the search for missing persons as quickly as possible, Qzone launched a people search service "wall" where users could post search messages or help message posters find their families and friends ( http://url.cn/AT7iiE), while also opening up a spot in a prime location on Qzone's home page for recommendations and key information. At the same time, the team at Qzone upgraded the 404 community network into a full platform to help look for missing people. Individuals affected by the disaster were advised to post people search messages on a variety of platforms for maximum exposure. Network users within the afflicted zone can upload their locations via watermarking images, allowing rescuers to pinpoint the location and provide rescue efforts as quickly as possible. Social networks played a key and effective role in face of a major disaster. Qzone initiates a special sign-up program for anyone wanting to say a prayer for Ya'an Users can publish disaster areas-related information on social networking websites such as Qzone, while the Tencent community provided strong back support as a social platform after the earthquake. The Qzone team sent disaster information to users via its watermarking camera tool at 9:30am, less than 90 minutes after the earthquake's occurrence at 8:02am on April 20, giving users instructions on how to get and keep in touch with their families and friends via social media and let them know that they were safe. The team also worked with other Tencent teams to transfer information and provide assistance. In addition to being able to be so instantly responsive to a disaster such as the earthquake for the first time, the Qzone team launched the "Ya'an -- Cheer up!" seal in its sign-up section by noon of the same day. Just 12 hours later, the number of sign-ups for the seal had already reached a new high, with the number of "retweets" exceeding 370,000. The number is now approaching 4 million. Eight hours after the quake, Qzone Gift section launched a "Cheer for Sichuan" gift giving program, with the number of gifts topping 2 million after 12 hours and now having exceeded 16 million. The care and concern expressed by the online community was warmly welcomed by disaster victims and brought some badly needed cheer into their lives.