Northern Ireland

Nice attack: Ballyclare woman describes terrifying experience

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Media captionZoe Tisdale said her family felt lucky to be safe and well after the attack

A County Antrim woman has described how she ran with her children as a crowd of people fled from the attack in Nice which left at least 84 people dead.

The attack took place on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday night after crowds had gathered to watch a Bastille Day firework display.

Ballyclare woman Zoe Tisdale had watched the fireworks on the beach with her husband and two children.

She described the attack as a "terrifying experience".

"We crossed the road and all of a sudden we heard bangs and everybody started shouting, running and screaming - people were holding their children and crying," she said.

"I just grabbed our children and we just started running, following the crowd.

"We were all terrified - at this stage we didn't know what had happened - but we all just started panicking.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The people in the crowd were watching a firework display to celebrate Bastille Day

"People were shouting 'shots, shots' and we knew we just had to get safe and get the children safe, get back to our apartment some way, so we just kept running and running.

"It was a terrifying experience and we feel very lucky that we all got back safe."

A Belfast man who was nearby when the attack happened described the aftermath as "absolute pandemonium".

Suneil Sharma, who is on holiday in Nice, was at a nearby restaurant when the attack took place.

Mr Sharma said he saw people fleeing through the streets in panic. He then took refuge inside a nearby hotel.

'Carnage'

"We saw just swathes of people running down the promenade, leaping over a little glass fence and hedge, into the hotel terrace where we were eating.

"It was just absolute pandemonium for a good half hour," he told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

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Media captionNice attacks: Belfast man describes 'pandemonium in French city

Mr Sharma travelled to Nice with several members of his family, including his children and his sister Sujata, who works for BBC Northern Ireland.

His two sons planned to go to the promenade to watch the fireworks but changed their minds at the last minute and stayed with Sujata, about 10 minutes away.

"Our hearts go out to the victims' families," Mr Sharma said.

"What had been a big celebratory day has turned into carnage once again in France."

He added: "It is just completely beyond understanding. It is truly another tragedy for the French people."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were emotional scenes in Nice after the attack

Speaking earlier, shortly after the attack on Thursday night, he described how the hotel he had taken shelter in was in "a lock down" with police saying that no-one should leave the building.

Mr Sharma said he was "shocked but relieved" that his children were not at the scene.

Sujata said: "My brother said whatever you do, stay put.

"Where we are people are running with their babies and their prams and it is mayhem.

"There are police and ambulances coming down the road."

The British and Irish embassies in France have both issued telephone helpline numbers for any of their citizens who have been affected by the Nice attack

The British embassy's 24-hour number is: +33 144513100.

The Irish embassy can be contacted on: + 33 144176700.

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