Nice Attack Witnesses Recall Details About Bastille Day Tragedy

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The truck rushing, sweeping away everything in its path, metal barriers and bodies alike - the horrible image recalled by every witness of the brutal terrorist attack that shook Nice on Thursday night.

A photo taken on July 15, 2016 shows a police barricade set up at the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. - Sputnik International
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NICE (Sputnik) – On Thursday night, a truck rammed into a large crowd that was celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. At least 84 people, including children, were killed and dozens of others were injured.

“What on Earth could have stopped it, it weighs at least 15 tonnes! It may not been driving very fast, but it swept away everything. People screamed, ran but not everyone made it," a young man with a French flag on his shoulders said.

Another witness, a Russian, who is in Nice on vacation, said that the truck was going at about 30 miles per hour.

"I felt that he [perpetrator] did not take his foot off the gas. It simply went straight. The only thing that interrupted him were the bodies. He hit people, drove them over with the truck. We sat in a cafe, then rushed to the hotel but thought that the shooting may follow; they may have come to the hotel too. We took to the streets and the dead were already covered. You know what they were covered with? Cafe tablecloths. They just brought them outside and used as covers," a tanned man in shorts said.

Those who managed to escape the deadly attack cannot get over the horror. Many witnesses of the yesterday's events are returning to the site of the tragedy. They just stand still or sit by the metal barriers and sometimes wipe tears reluctantly talking to other people.

"I was here yesterday, I saw the horror. Our family went to see the fireworks, there was celebration, a good mood in the air. And then the truck appeared. It passed by very close, just a little bit closer and I would have died. I saw the people lying on the pavement… I could have died. But thanks God, I did not die,” an elderly man, standing at the police cordon facing the waterfront, said with a trembling voice wiping his tears.

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Another man near the cordon did not hold his tears back.

"We left one of our friends at McDonald's, we left for a bit and when we came back… People were already lying on the ground. It was a holiday, the holiday of France, and it has become a day when families collapsed. He was 27 years old, I do not even know why we decided to separate… There were three of us who came to the celebration and only two returned. Why? I do not know, I do not know, I cannot speak, I'm sorry,” the man turned away, trying to calm the tears.

Many of those who were planning to go and watch the fireworks, now praise the God or circumstances which prevented them from visiting the waterfront.

"We live on the same promenade, our windows are facing it. We went for a walk to the seaside with the granddaughters, but it became cold, and we decided to go home. We were in the elevator, for, like, four minutes. We left surrounded by music and happiness but as we entered the apartment we heard cries. We ran out onto the balcony and saw that everything is scattered, people run, scream, cry. We spent the entire evening inside, afraid to go out,” the man said.

The reasons not to go to the celebrations were different, one of the interviewees was tired and decided not to take a walk to the waterfront.

"We have only arrived last night, I was tired, and we decided not to go. I was flying here with a bad feeling, you know. I even told my daughter that I was afraid of something, with all these recent attacks, nowhere is safe. And she tried to comfort me doubting that attacks in the south of France could happen,” she said.

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel - Sputnik International
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It is unfair to say that France got used to terrorist attacks but they are not so shocking anymore. People formed a certain pattern of behavior, something they do almost automatically trying to share the grief of others and ease the burden of their own. As well as after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the lust for life trumps death despite the grief.

In Nice, French flags can be seen hanging out of the windows, there are spontaneous memorials everywhere along the cordon. Flower bouquets, candles, notes with the words of support in different languages can be seen here and there.

Today, on the beach of especially azure sea, people are sunbathing, sitting in cafes, others bringing home purchases from discounted sales. The life goes on.

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