In 2017, we are horribly familiar with acts of terrorism. But we also know that in the aftermath of an atrocity, there will always be people who are kind, generous and brave; who are spots of light in what can feel like a very dark world.
In the wake of a terrorist incident in Barcelona, residents and visitors have been doing all they can to help those in need.
A van ploughed into locals and tourists on the busy Las Ramblas boulevard on Thursday, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 100. As emergency services rushed to the scene, ordinary people offered assistance to those caught up in the attack.
Spanish media reports that taxis offered free rides to people stranded in the area. One driver, identified only as Mohammed, told Euronews that he had offered transport to a Swedish family whose daughter was hurt on Las Ramblas.
“Everyone was very frightened, some did not know what had happened exactly, people were shouting,” he said.
“I gave a lift to some Swedish tourists whose daughter was close to the attack, she had injured her leg after a shelf from a kiosk fell on her. They were so scared. It hurts my heart just thinking about it.”
Police sealed off the area around Las Ramblas in the aftermath of the crash, meaning that many residents and tourists were unable to get to their homes or hotels. As a result, hotels in other areas of the city offered shelter and blankets to those in need of a place to stay.
Joan Gaspart, the head of tourism in Barcelona, confirmed that all hotels in the city were open, and said that people should not wait on the streets overnight.
“Let them come,” he told Spanish digital newspaper El Diaro. “We will attend to them until they open Las Ramblas.”
Barcelona’s Sikh community opened its houses of worship to people seeking shelter and food in the Spanish city. Punjabi restaurateur Harjinder Kukreja shared the addresses of two gurdwaras in Barcelona on Twitter, in a post that has been liked 10,000 times.
Gurdwaras are open to people of all faiths, even in times of non-emergency – but this generous approach was particularly welcome after the panic and confusion on Thursday.
Other Barcelona residents offered their homes to people caught up in the attack using the hashtag #BedInBarcelona. Similar gestures were seen after the recent terrorist incidents in Manchester and London, when many local residents took to Twitter to offer their hospitality.
Cities around the world also expressed solidarity with Barcelona, with buildings in Tel Aviv and New York City lit up with the Spanish flag. The Eiffel Tower went dark as a mark of respect for those who had lost their lives.
The Islamic terror group Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona. It has not yet released a statement on a second van attack in the seaside resort of Cambrils on Thursday, in which seven people were injured. The Guardian reports that five suspected terrorists were shot dead in Cambrils as a result of the van attack.
An explosion at a house in the coastal town of Alcanar on Wednesday night is also thought to be related to the incidents in Barcelona and Cambrils. One person died in the blast, according to Sky News, while another was seriously injured.
Three men have been arrested in Alcanar and Ripoll in connection to the attacks, but police are still hunting for the driver of the van that crashed into pedestrians on Las Ramblas. He is thought to have fled the scene on foot.
Images: Pexels / Rex Features