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Irish people tell of terrifying moments of attack in Nice

A man runs near the scene of the attack in Nice. Picture by AP Photo/Luca Bruno

HOLIDAY-MAKERS from Ireland have relived the terrifying moments they were caught up in the tragic events that unfolded in Nice.

Many described the panic and chaos that ensued along the Promenade des Anglais after a lorry driver ploughed into crowds celebrating France's national Bastille Day.

Several spoke about how they were forced to run for their lives during the attack, which has left at least 84 people dead and 18 critically injured.

The French city is a popular holiday destination in the south of France with many Irish tourists enjoying the festivities along the promenade for the French national holiday.

Zoe Tisdale from Ballyclare was enjoying the fireworks display on the beach with her husband and two children following a meal at a nearby restaurant.

"The place was packed with people, all kinds of different people - French people, tourists, we were beside Germans and the children were excited to see the fireworks to we made our way onto the beach," she said.

"The fireworks were lovely, as fireworks are, and they went on for about 20 minutes or so and then everybody was trying to get off the beach which was so packed, so we just had to wait and be patient.

"We were just starting to wait and go up the steps to cross the road when some people just started running, we heard all these bangs.

"At that stage we weren't sure what it was, people had been setting off fireworks on the street before they had actually started. We kind of just looked at each other for a minute and thought something isn't right.

"Everybody started running, people were screaming and shouting."

Ms Tisdale said they then heard people say "shooting, shooting, so we knew something had happened".

"We just grabbed the children and kept on running...everybody in the whole street was just running away from the main centre," she told Q Radio.

"We were actually about 300 yards up from where the lorry had hit most of the people so we have been very lucky. It was very frightening and obviously the children were very upset and scared."

A barman from Dublin was just 10ft from the carnage as he watched the truck driver plough through men, women and children.

Robert Green (33) saw one man's body torn in pieces as a woman cried over him, while the shattered remnants of a child's bike were strewn across the road.

He had just got off a bus with a group of friends as the Bastille Day celebrations and firework display drew to a close.

Mr Greene said of the truck driver's progress: "He came behind us and beside us as he was cutting through people. He was as close as 10ft away.

"I saw this truck and he cut through three or four people, he was already missing the bumper. It was horrific."

Still in deep shock after witnessing the deaths, he described the carnage the truck left in its wake.

"A woman dropped to her knees, someone in her family had been killed, just lying there," he said.

"There was not even a thing anyone could do, there was no CPR, bits of him were lying around. It was horrific."

The barman added: "There was a young child's plastic tricycle, smashed up and left in bits.

"I stayed on top of the stairs looking around. It was surreal. People screaming, children crying, young children running around the place alone, a woman on roller blades screaming for her child. She found him."

Paddy Mullan from Derry was standing on Promenade des Anglais with his girlfriend when he saw the truck approaching.

"This lorry just mounted the kerb, across the street from us and the next thing, all you could hear was banging and shouting and screaming," he told the BBC.

"There was a lot of panic at one stage because we were right in the mix when all this was happening.

"There was a lot of confusion, misdirection, because we didn't know what exactly was happening, why it was happening."

He added: "We didn't know if it was people on the ground shooting or if there was a bomb, or what was going on, we were just trying to get away".

Christopher Lismore from Belfast and his girlfriend Laura McGarrity were also caught up in the aftermath of the attack.

"We were hanging back until the crowds dispersed and as we were sitting there all of a sudden we saw crowds of people running," he said.

"We kind of knew instantly that something was happening, so we all stood up and started heading up the beach away from everything.

"We headed into the Old Town and everyone was very panicked, we were trying to get information from people that were running up the road.

"Some people just didn't know what was going on, some people were lost for words, there was talk of people using guns up near the Hotel Negresco so we headed back to the house."

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