Washington: News of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that hit northeastern Japan Friday, generating a 10-metre-high tsunami, sent millions of people around the world online in search of information and ways to help.On Twitter and Facebook, millions of people reached out for news on the historic devastation, while others simply sent prayers and good wishes for the victims.The Google search engine, normally placid even after major events, displayed a tsunami alert in red under its search button.Google launched Person Finder for the Japan earthquake in both Japanese and English.Person Finder provides a way to connect people trying to location family and friends with those who might have information about the individuals. A similar system was used after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010.Clicking I'm looking for someone and typing a name in Person Finder provides a list of people. Clicking one of the names opens a profile page, offering places to leave messages or provide descriptions.If you click, âI have information about someone" and type a name, Person Finder provides a way to enter what you know about that person's whereabouts.Many of the major relief organisations quickly launched online fundraising efforts.The Red Cross was accepting donations via SMS, as well as through its International Response Fund. Save the Children accepts donations through its Children's Emergency Fund.Meanwhile, security experts warned users about online scam artists who typically take advantage of such disasters to try to pry the generous from their money. Would-be donors were urged to visit only reputable sites, to be wary of links that purport to direct them to donation sites and not to divulge any personal information.Twitter was abuzz within minutes of the earthquake.On Twitter, which has developed into a key means by which both individuals and news organisations seek first-hand accounts of breaking events, thousands flocked to the hashtags, prayforjapan and tsunami.Hashtags are the means by which Twitter users organise messages - or "tweets" around particular topics.The best way to follow topics on a particular hashtag is to visit Twitter's advanced search site and type the topic or hashtag into this hashtag. Then click Search, and every recent tweet containing that hashtag will appear.Unlike during previous natural disasters, Twitter highlighted special twitter pages devoted to tweets about the Japanese earthquake.On YouTube users uploaded videos of earthquake and tsunami footage drawn from sources around the world, including original film clips from home camcorders. YouTube viewers can use the site to follow the earthquake from its first rumblings to the catastrophic tsunami that followed.