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Web postings give helping hand

By Andrew Demaria for CNN

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Special Report:  Tsunami Disaster

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- It was the best birthday present Linda Boffo had ever received, ending days of emotional turmoil.

Early on the morning of her birthday, an e-mail landed in the inbox of the Massachusetts resident from her son, Jeffrey, who had been traveling in Thailand with his partner.

Both were alive and well in Chiang Mai, escaping the death and destruction wrought by Sunday's tsunamis that hit parts of Thailand's coastal and island regions as well as almost a dozen other countries.

Linda was one of thousands of people from around the world desperately trying to locate missing friends, colleagues, family and loved ones.

With communications to tsunami-affected areas either overloaded or severed, many, like Linda, turned to Web postings to seek help.

CNN has posted thousands of e-mails from people requesting assistance in their search for those missing. Complete this form to send us an e-mail (Please note that we will need to publish your e-mail address.)

In most cases it has been complete strangers offering their help, thoughts and prayers.

For Linda, the process brought a happy conclusion.

"Thank your for your efforts," she wrote. "I wish my beautiful outcome for everyone who contacts you."

Jude Hart, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was also able to verify the whereabouts of missing cousin Bernard Dawson who had been in Thailand when the tsunamis struck.

"As a result of the posting, I received numerous e-mails from Bernard's friends in the UK, and between us all via e-mails, Bernard's approximate location was established," Hart wrote.

"Although we could not contact him at that stage, it was wonderful having support from his friends on the other side of the world. Bernard has today contacted me in a very brief text message advising "High and Dry" so its wonderful to know he's alive and well... THANK YOU. We are the lucky ones."

Nicolette, from George in South Africa, also posted information on CNN.com, looking for information for friends on a honeymoon in the Thai resort island of Phuket.

"The response I received from people willing to help was overwhelming," she e-mailed. "Thank you very much for the kind words and offers to help. Great news: The couple made contact on Monday and are coming back today."

And this from Keith Trevallion: "Sincere thanks to the many people who replied to my request for information regarding Richard Everett... He was caught in the tsunami but survived with a few cuts and bruises only."

Laura Springston held fears for teachers and students on campus over the Christmas holidays at the Dalat International School in Penang, Malaysia. She too posted a message, seeking information on whether the school had been hit by the waves.

Fortunately, Marlea Ward was able to provide some answers.

"All are safe at school -- the seawall has been damaged, but there were no injuries or deaths. I have heard from a friend who attended Dalat and whose sister now works there. But I would like to hear of more news -- if anyone knows of anything with regards to the Malay staff that were on campus, please post."

Others searching for people in Sri Lanka, Kenya and other countries also had success.

But thousands more are still desperate for any clues as to the whereabouts or fate of those dear to them. For them, the search goes on.


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