Canadian telecom providers and tech companies are banding together to help people contact family members and loved ones stranded in Brussels following Tuesday’s terror attack.
At least 30 people were killed and dozens more were injured after explosions struck the Belgian capital Tuesday morning. The Islamic State group, which was behind November’s Paris attacks, has claimed responsibility for the bombings.
According to Global Affairs, at least 517 Canadians have registered as being in the country – but registration is voluntary, so not all Canadian visitors will be registered with the government’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
Telecom companies offering free calls, texts
Many Canadian telecom providers are offering customers free calls and texts to Belgium, including Telus and Wind Mobile.
In a statement to Global News, a Rogers spokesperson confirmed the company would extend the same courtesy to its customers. The catch is customers will need to contact the company to have those charges waived.
“This is a tragic event and we want to make sure our customers can connect with their loved ones without worrying about the cost,” said the spokesperson.
“We’ll waive the charges for any customer contacting Brussels when they get in touch with us.”
Global News contacted Bell to see if the company would be offering a similar service, however, a request for comment was not returned.
U.S. carriers – including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile – will provide free calls to Belgium, according to CNN.
Google offering free calls via Hangouts
In a statement posted to the company’s official blog late Tuesday, Google announced it would allow users to make free calls using Google Hangouts.
“We are deeply saddened and appalled by the bombings in Brussels today, and by the recent violence in Turkey. Our thoughts are with the victims of these attacks, and their families,” read the statement.
“To help people stay informed and connected with loved ones, we’re offering free calls via Hangouts, Hangouts Dialer or Google Voice to Belgium and Turkey. You can now make free calls to people on Belgium’s biggest mobile carriers — Lycamobile, Mobistar, Proximus, and Telenet — and to all landlines in Turkey.”
Google Hangouts allows users to have text, voice or video chats in one-on-one and group chats through mobile apps on both iOS and Android.
For those in Brussels, Google has been publishing transit updates in its Google Now cards – shown at the top of search results on mobile – to help people navigate the city.
Those updates also include information about crisis centres around Brussels.