Witnesses Describe Chaos, Horror in Nice

Parents threw kids to safety as truck plowed through crowd
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2016 1:21 AM CDT
Witnesses Describe Chaos, Horror in Nice
A woman cries asking for her son as she walks near the scene of the attack.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Witnesses have described scenes of chaos, terror, and panic as an attacker drove a heavy truck through a crowd gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France, on Thursday night, killing at least 80 people. Large numbers of families had gathered along the seafront Promenade des Anglais, and witnesses say they saw parents throw their children to safety as the truck zigzagged for more than a mile, leaving a trail of dead and injured people behind it. "We saw essentially a stampede of people coming along the Promenade des Anglais," US-Palestinian writer Ismail Khalidi tells the Guardian. "We are talking families, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. Then all of a sudden the stampede started coming from the other direction," he says. "I have never seen that level of chaos and hysteria and terror." The latest developments:

  • President Francois Hollande says he has no doubt that the attack was terrorism, and he's extending by three months the state of emergency brought in after last November's Paris attacks, reports Reuters. "France is filled with sadness by this new tragedy," says Hollande, who's calling up police and military reservists.
  • "France was struck on the day of its national fete, July 14, the symbol of liberty," Hollande said in a televised address early Friday, calling the attack a "monstrosity" and "an absolute violence." "The terrorist character (of the attack) cannot be denied," he said. "All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorists."

  • A police sources tells AFP that the identity papers of a French-Tunisian man were found in the truck after the driver was shot dead by police. The sources say that the driver got out of the truck and exchanged fire with police before he was killed.
  • A spokesman for a pediatric hospital in Nice tells Reuters that children were among those killed in the attack and that many children are now undergoing serious operations at the hospital.
  • Nice-Matin journalist Damien Allemand says the screams began just as the fireworks ended and people got up to leave, the AP reports. "A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people," he says. "I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget."
(More Attack in Nice stories.)

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