On Friday, a series of shootings across the city of Paris left more than 120 people dead and 99 more critically injured, according to BuzzFeed News.
The shootings occurred at a variety of restaurants and social venues throughout the city — specifically, outside the Le Carillon bar and the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, on the terrace of the La Casa Rostra pizzeria, on 90 Rue Charonne, outside Stade de France during a soccer match between France and Germany, at the Les Halles shopping mall, and outside the Bataclan concert hall — “the scene where more than 100 people were killed.” BBC reported.
Late Friday, French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and closed the country’s borders, BBC reported.
As of Saturday morning, all the assailants of the attacks have been killed, according to Hollande, who called the attacks an “act of war” carried out by the extremist militant group Islamic State, BBC reported.
These attacks come just months after 11 people were killed at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, BuzzFeed reported.
In the immediate moments following Friday's shootings, many families found their loved ones were safe through social media, specifically Facebook, which launched its “Safety Check” tool Friday night for people in Paris to notify their friends and family members that they were safe from danger, according to CNN.
The “Safety Check” tool, first launched in 2014, has only been used five times for natural disasters. It pinpoints a user's location and allows them to check-in and send a notification to people in their feed that they are safe.
"We are shocked and saddened by the events unfolding in Paris. Communication is critical in these moments both for people there and for their friends and families anxious for news," Facebook said in a statement, according to CNN. “People turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates which is why we created Safety Check and why we have activated it today for people in Paris.”
Facebook will continue to allow family members to find their loved ones in Paris through this feature, CNN reported.
Other concerned family members can also call the U.S. Embassy in Paris if they’re unsure about a family member or friend's safety, according to NBC New York. The embassy is also working to locate any missing Americans.
Extra staff working thru the night to help you locate US relatives in Paris who haven't checked in. 1-888-407-4747 (From the US and Canada)— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) November 14, 2015
Families across the United States — from Texas to New Jersey to Arizona — who have found their loved ones after the attacks have stayed in constant contact through social media and technological devices.
Katherine Spinks, of North Texas, said her daughter lives in Paris and was eating at a restaurant when the attacks began, immediately raising concern, according to NBC-DFW.
"I had just walked in from work," Spinks told NBC-DFW. “It was about 4 p.m., and I turned on the news, and I saw it was all about Paris, and immediately I was concerned."
Spinks said her daughter heard and saw gunfire from one of the assailants, but she and her friends were unsure about what was going on, NBC-DFW reported. The Texas mother said she’d stay in close contact with her daughter this weekend.
Tara Brahmi, also of Texas, told NBC-DFW that she has friends and family in Paris she’s keeping in contact with through her smartphone.
"It's heartbreaking to know that I have family there," Brahmi told NBC-DFW. "Honestly, I heard first from the station that this was going on. It's bothersome. It's worrying, calling over to make sure my family is OK and all accounted for."
Families in Arizona have used social media to stay in contact with their loved ones, too, according to ABC-15. Jeff Vinton is an Arizona native who’s doing an exchange program in Ireland and recently traveled to Paris with his friends. Vinton had just toured some of the sights where the shootings occurred when he heard the news, ABC reported.
Since then, he’s been in constant contact with his family through social media.
Similarly, the Tonioli family in Arizona used FaceTime to talk with an exchange student who lived with them earlier this year, ABC-15 reported. They also shared concerns with the student’s brother, who was out Friday night and had been close to the concert hall shootings, according to ABC-15.
“We’re scared for them; we’re praying for them,” Elyse Tonioli said of her Paris loved ones. “They’re nervous; it’s probably like how 9/11 was for us; they’re just concerned for their whole country.”Comment on this story
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.