UK

Paris attacks: 'I expected to die. I told my girlfriend I loved her'

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Media captionFootage from the concert appears to show the moment gunfire started

"That was one of the most eerie parts, that you could hear somebody methodically reloading his guns."

These are the words of Michael O'Connor, a British man who was at a Paris concert on Friday when gunmen attacked, killing more than 80 people.

Mr O'Connor, 30, from South Shields, and his girlfriend were a few seats from the stage at the Bataclan concert hall, dancing as the Eagles of Death Metal played the latest gig on their European tour.

"We heard a loud bang, but I think we thought it was just part of the set, I didn't react at first," Mr O'Connor told Radio 5 live's Stephen Nolan show.

"Then I heard people screaming behind me and I turned around... and I think there was two people. They entered from the back of the arena and they just started to open fire with what looked like AK47s.

"It was an automatic rifle, firing into the crowd, people falling all over the place, people screaming and just clawing and running and pushing to get away."

Mr O'Connor said he grabbed his girlfriend and rushed to a fire exit but because so many others were doing the same they were not able to get out.

"Once they'd emptied their magazines, everybody kind of got back up and tried to make another dash for the exit and then he just reloaded and tried to fire into all of us again," he said.

"I pulled my girlfriend underneath me and I lay on top of her."

He said they and others around them played dead.

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Media captionBataclan concert survivor describes 'terrifying' siege

"I thought I was going to die," he said.

"I just told my girlfriend that I loved her - what else can you do in that situation? I expected to die.

"My girlfriend was so brave though, she kept on telling me this isn't where it's going to end, we're not going to die here."

Mr O'Connor said the concert hall was dark as they lay there.

He said sounds were still coming from the band's amplifiers, and he could hear the gunmen fumbling with their weapons.

"That was one of the most eerie parts, that you could hear somebody methodically reloading his guns to start opening fire on you again," he said.

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Image caption Eagles of Death Metal were playing a gig as part of their European tour

"At one point we could tell that activity was on the balcony so we were whispering to each other in the group, telling each other that we were going to be OK, to try and stay calm, just gently holding each other's hands, just trying to encourage each other that we were going to get through it."

He said he raised his head and could see "bodies strewn all over the place".

He and his girlfriend lay on the floor for more than an hour, he said.

Throughout that time, the attackers said very little but he said one spoke in French and said: "If we are here it's because of your President Francois Hollande."

'Like a slaughterhouse'

Eventually he saw a door open and police came in with bright torches, peering over shields.

The police motioned for them to stay down initially, he said, adding that he then heard more gunfire.

"Eventually the police told us to wave our arms if we could, then they'd know who's alive," he said.

He said it "was such a relief to see them", adding: "I've never felt so happy in my entire life to see the police."

Describing the scene he witnessed as he left the concert hall, Mr O'Connor said: "It looked like an abattoir, it looked like a slaughterhouse. I was wading through blood, it was a centimetre deep on the ground in places".

He said he had to "clamber over dead bodies" to get out.

Speaking about those who carried out the attacks, he said: "We can't let them win and these people just, they're just monsters, they're just, they don't represent anything, they're not Muslims, they're not, they're just animals.

"How can you walk in there, I mean, I'm 30 years old, I was probably the oldest, one of the oldest people in the gig. It was full of teenagers and, you know, people in their early 20s going to see a band."

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