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World

Another Terror Attack In France: Scores Killed In Nice

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

All morning long, we are bringing you updates from the south of France where late last night a truck barreled into crowds celebrating Bastille Day. That's France's independence day. At this hour, the death toll is 84 with others critically injured.

Joining us on the line from the resort city of Nice is David Coady. He was among the crowds fleeing the attack. And welcome to the program.

DAVID COADY: Thanks, Renee. Hello.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, and I - no, I gather that you are an Australian journalist living in London. But you're there in Nice on vacation. What happened? When did you realize that something terrible was taking place?

COADY: Well, Renee, I was among thousands of people who'd just watched the Bastille Day fireworks moving along the promenade, you know, trying to find your way through a crowd, so it was already a bit of a confused situation. But I remember seeing this large, white truck. And I was about 15 meters away, perhaps on the other side of the road with a traffic island in between us. And I remember thinking that's really odd because this is an area that's been closed off to road traffic. Just pedestrians were using it.

And - but in that moment as I was considering that that's when the panic really started to take hold. People started screaming, and people started turning and running towards me. That's when I decided that I needed to turn and run myself. And I'm with my girlfriend on holidays here, so I grabbed her hand. And we started running away down the street.

And the aim was to get as far away as possible from the promenade. People were falling over. They were getting more panicky every time we heard a bang. And we didn't know exactly what it was the time, but we now know that it was - that they were gunshots.

MONTAGNE: And...

COADY: People were trying to take shelter wherever they could. They would go into hotel lobbies and restaurants.

MONTAGNE: And, you know, did you understand that people were being mowed down? I mean, many of them - it's an extraordinary death toll.

COADY: It's really sad. But from the angle that I saw it, it looked like a stationary truck with many people gathered really close to it. So it was an odd thing, but I didn't see anything that indicated that something particularly devastating was happening. I thought hopefully it was just a traffic incident and confusion and fear among people in France given that it has been a place where terrorist attacks have happened in Paris last year, of course. So I didn't know what was happening for sure, but panic spread pretty quickly through the crowd.

MONTAGNE: Just briefly, this morning, I mean, this has been a national holiday. Now it's been settling. What is - what are people saying?

COADY: Well, you know, it's a beautiful, sunny day. We're sitting out next to the beach on the promenade here. People gathered along some of the barricades to have a look at what police are doing. Some white sheets have gone up, so people can't see exactly what's happening.

I passed some people having breakfast in a cafe just as you normally would on a holiday or locals earlier on today. I spoke with a couple of men who were there last night. They seemed pretty shaken up by the experience. They didn't want to speak about it, but it was...

MONTAGNE: Right.

COADY: ...You know, it's an unsettling feeling here.

MONTAGNE: Right. The - David Coady is an Australian journalist on vacation in Nice. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.