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#PorteOuverte: When the very worst of humanity triggers some of its best.

It was nighttime in Paris but nobody was sleeping.

Over 100 people have been confirmed dead by police after a series of frightening attacks across the French capital.

A gunman with a semi-automatic weapon has opened fire in a busy bar, there have been multiple explosions at a major football stadium where a soccer match was underway and more than 100 hostages were held in a concert hall in the eastern parts of Paris. It is believed that the gunmen executed the hostages one by one, with some managing to escape.

From what should have been an evening of champagne, soccer and symphonies, the world’s most romantic city has been shifted into a siege mentality. From the distance of a safe, sunny morning in Australia, the scale of this – still ongoing – horror is almost too large to comprehend. As journalist Jodie Speers tweeted earlier, imagine attacks on Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, the Horden Pavilion and ANZ stadium all in a single night. That is the nightmare Parisians are living this very moment.

In the wake of what appears to have been a carefully coordinated series of terrorist attacks, France has closed its borders.

A state of emergency has been declared for the first time since World War II.

The depth of this depravity, the sheer brutality with which these attacks have been conducted cannot help but leave you feeling utterly defeated. We’re watching the very worst of humanity present itself in painfully sharp technicolour on our television, computer and smart phone screens.

It’s soul destroying and yet, who can look away?

But even among immeasurable tragedy and darkness, hope somehow manages to stand its ground. And tonight, hope comes in the form of thoughts and prayers from citizens all over the world, including Parisians themselves who have started the hashtag #PorteOuverte on social media.

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#PorteOuverte translates to ‘Door Open’. The hashtag is being used by Parisians offer their homes up to tourists affected by the attacks who have nowhere safe to stay. That’s right, in the midst of France’s darkest time, its people are thinking not of themselves but of the visitors they welcome so generously into their city.

It’s an incredible act of kindness, that has seen civilians publicly post their home addresses on social media and invite strangers into their living rooms. Taxi drivers are turning off their metres and continuing to offer people safe passage home. As always, the very worst of humanity has spawned some of its best.

The eyes of the world are on Paris today and our hearts are with its citizens.

We hope and pray for their safety.

Support is available for Australians with friends and family in Paris:

The Australian Embassy phone number in Paris is +33140593300 for those trying to contact friends and family in the region .

24-HOUR CONSULAR EMERGENCY HELPLINE

Within Australia: 1300 555 135

Outside Australia: +61 2 6261 3305

SMS: +61 421 269 080

Website: Getting help overseas http://smartraveller.gov.au/help/

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