Northern Ireland

Nice attack: NI eyewitness Paddy Mullan describes scene of panic

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Media captionPaddy Mullan, who was on holiday in Nice said he had "never seen" such fear

A Northern Ireland man who witnessed a truck crashing into a crowd in Nice, killing at least 84 people, has described the "panic" at the scene.

Paddy Mullan, from Londonderry, is in the French city on holiday with his girlfriend.

They were on the Promenade des Anglais when they 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 said.

He said he had "never seen" such fear.

"There was a lot of panic at one stage because we were right in the mix when all this was happening," Mr Mullan told BBC Radio Foyle.

Image copyright Paddy Mullan
Image caption Paddy Mullan and his girlfriend were watching the firework display before the attack

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

The attack coincided with Bastille Day, a national holiday in France, and thousands of people had gathered on the streets to watch a fireworks display.

The couple had been in a nearby restaurant on the last night of their holiday, before going out onto the promenade to watch the fireworks.

As they walked back towards the restaurant, Mr Mullan said the truck "came out of nowhere" and started "ploughing" into the crowd.

"There were people running up, screaming and coming into the restaurant trying to get away, so we didn't know what it was.

"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."

Image copyright Rob Griffith
Image caption Hundreds of people were caught up in the attack as they watched a fireworks display on the promendae

Mr Mullan and his girlfriend then "bailed out" of the restaurant through a side exit and went through barriers into an apartment complex behind the building.

"We were pushing all the buzzers to try and get into the apartment blocks," he said. "Eventually we got in."

He said there were many others in the same building and lots of confusion but, after a while, a woman who spoke English explained to the couple what had happened.

"We were just desperately trying to get back to our apartment," he said.

"I've never seen fear like it in all my life and probably never will again."

Northern Ireland woman Laura McGarrity was at the beach when the attack happened.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tributes have been left near the scene of the attack as people in Nice come to terms with what happened

"It was absolutely terrifying," she said.

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Media captionNice attack: NI woman describes attack

"Hundreds of people were trying to scurry off the beach and run home not really knowing what had occurred."

But she said the attacks will not stop her from staying in the French city for the rest of her holiday.

Paul Sheridan, the principal of Model Primary School in Derry, watched the Bastille Day fireworks from further along the coast on Thursday night.

He visits Nice on holiday every summer and said the mood on Friday in the wake of the attack was one of "shock and sadness".

"Nice has always been synonymous with sunshine and sound, full of people and buskers on the promenade," he said.

"But today it was very noticeable how few people there were - it was silent.

"At one of the shopping centres there were security guards at the door checking bags - it felt like years ago in Belfast."

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