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Originally uploaded by Vinu

Reports of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India overnight have flooded my inbox and Twitter stream since early this morning. At first, I checked the Sydney Morning Herald site to learn details, but found that Twitter was providing more rapid and constant updates.

Twitter also has the advantage of being able to track details of hashtags – a simple way of indexing all messages from across the global Twitter network. To see the unfolding Twitter stream, click here.

Via this constant message stream, Indian bloggers such as Vinu and Dina Mehta are providing on-the-ground updates. Vinu used a Flickr account to upload photos of the aftermath of attacks near his home.

Within 20 minutes of watching, the focus of the Twitter stream shifted from reporting events to calling for help. A local Mumbai hospital needed additional blood supplies, and through retweets (the practice of spreading a piece of news from one person’s network of friends to another), the details of the hospital, its phone number and a link to a Google map, were shared.

Events continue to unfold. If you have friends or family in the area – especially if they hold British or US passports, essential services contact numbers can be found here.

UPDATE: Gaurav Mishra collates social media responses to the events in Mumbai.

UPDATE2: The crisis continues and can be watched via streaming TV courtesy of NDTV.

UPDATE3: Sonia Faleiro gives a first hand account of the encounter.

UPDATE4: Valeria Maltoni sums up the transformation in the way that information flows via citizen journalists/social media since September 11.

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