Paris attacks: French arriving in Singapore shocked at news of attacks

A member of the public leaving flowers and a message of condolence outside the French Embassy in Singapore on Nov 14, 2015.
A member of the public leaving flowers and a message of condolence outside the French Embassy in Singapore on Nov 14, 2015.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
A boy looking at flowers of condolence that were left outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.
A boy looking at flowers of condolence that were left outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Flowers placed outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.
Flowers placed outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.ST PHOTO: JALELAH ABU BAKER
A bouquet of flowers with a card that reads "Praying for Paris" that was placed outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.
A bouquet of flowers with a card that reads "Praying for Paris" that was placed outside the French Embassy in Singapore, on Nov 14, 2015.ST PHOTO: JALELAH ABU BAKER
The French and European Union flags flying at half mast at the French Embassy in Singapore on Nov 14, 2015.
The French and European Union flags flying at half mast at the French Embassy in Singapore on Nov 14, 2015.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE- French citizens arriving at Changi Airport on Saturday afternoon were shocked to find out about the terrorist attacks in Paris which occurred while they were in the air.

They had arrived on an Air France flight that landed at Terminal l at about 3pm.

Several passengers, including Parisians Thomas Becelewski and Agnes Courtay, who are from a theatre crew and here to perform, were on the search for a television right after emerging in the arrival hall to catch live news on what was happening back home.

"It's a big shock," said 34-year-old Courtay. She and Mr Becelewski used to work at music venue Bataclan, calling it the heart of the night scene in Paris. That was where the worst attack took place, with around 80 people killed.

Other targets, such as restaurant Le Carillon, are also areas that many people go to relax, she added.

Both of them had found out about the attacks through their Facebook pages. And while many of their friends had marked themselves as "safe", she said her worries continue and she was desperate for authorities to identify the victims as quickly as possible.

Mr Xavier Courboin, 52, a managing director who has been working in Singapore for about two years, and travels regularly to Paris, was at the airport to receive a friend from the capital. Upon hearing the news, his friend was at a loss for words. Speaking on behalf of both of them, Mr Courboin said: "We are in shock. It's too big a thing to understand. But we are also angry, because the secret services should have more resources to do their job."

Outside the French embassy on Cluny Road in Bukit Timah, people left flowers and messages such as "Peace for Paris" and "Praying for Paris".

One French citizen, who wanted to be known only as Jerome, was seen placing a single red rose outside the embassy. He told The Sunday Times that he works for the embassy, and was devastated by the attacks. "We have to remain strong, stand firm. It's comforting to see that people have dropped by to place flowers."

jalmsab@sph.com.sg