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March 12, 2011

Beluga Connects Japan Quake Survivor With Pregnant Wife

With the horrific earthquake in Japan destroying lives and devastating communications lines, trying to connect survivors of the disaster was nearly impossible Friday and into Saturday with phone lines down and SMS unavailable throughout much of the country. One man, stranded 10 miles from home, found a way to connect with his wife, 8 months pregnant, using Beluga, the group texting application launched at the end of 2010, recently acquired by Facebook.

The user, who goes by the name of "Aaron", posted his story to Beluga's community support site, saying:
"Beluga kept me in touch during the massive Tokyo earthquake yesterday

I just wanted to give a huge thanks for making Beluga. I live in central Tokyo, and the earthquake yesterday overwhelmed all mobile lines. No SMS and no voice calls at all were possible for nearly 10 hours. But for some reason Beluga worked, and allowed me to stay in contact with my wife, who is 8 months pregnant, while we were apart. It took me 3 hours to walk the 10 miles home through Tokyo since all the trains were out, and I could have kissed my phone every time I got a message from my wife. Thanks for making Beluga free, even though after this I'd gladly pay for it!"
One can imagine the sheer terror of being separated from one's spouse after such a devastating quake (and all the related aftershocks and tsunami), and the utter relief the man felt with every single notification that hit his phone as he walked the 10 miles home from Tokyo. The headlines continue to be filled with amazing photos of devastation and continued concerns about safety, and we will no doubt hear many more stories of loss and, as with other world disasters, stories of hope, rescue and heroism.

The power to connect people and families is an incredible thing. Jon Perlow, cofounder of Beluga, posted it Facebook with a simple "Wow", adding on the support site, "We're glad to hear Beluga was able to help. Our thoughts are with you and all the people in Japan." A breath-taking story.

Chalk one up for the world of group texting, and the ability for new forms of communication to deliver experiences previously impossible.