10 kids among dead, many others scarred by carnage

Flowers left as tributes to the victims of last Thursday's attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice yesterday.
Flowers left as tributes to the victims of last Thursday's attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NICE • It was the first and last fireworks show in this seaside city for 41/2-year-old Yanis Coviaux. He died in the carnage last Thursday night.

Other children survived but may never look at fireworks in the same way. The driver who ploughed his truck into crowds at the end of the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice killed at least 84 people, including 10 children. At least 35 other children were treated at hospitals in Nice. Some were separated from their parents.

No one at the waterfront that night could have imagined such an ending. Going to see the July 14 fireworks is an annual family ritual in Nice, a time for picnics on the beach or on the median of the waterfront road, the Promenade des Anglais.

"You have to bring your children because if you don't, you will pay for it all year - all their friends are there," Ms Raja El Kamel, who went with her two children, told The New York Times.

The fireworks are especially beloved as the entire community joins in: Christian and Muslim, religious and secular, but French above all. The many tourists gave the evening even more of a festive feel.

MUST-GO EVENT FOR KIDS

You have to bring your children because if you don't, you will pay for it all year - all their friends are there.

MS RAJA EL KAMEL, who went with her two children to the annual July 14 fireworks show in Nice.

For Yanis and his parents Mickael and Samira Coviaux, the evening was a first. The parents, both truck drivers, live in the city of Grenoble, and this was their first time seeing the fireworks as a family.

"They did not hear the truck until just one second before it hit. It went up on the sidewalk; it struck Yanis," said the boy's aunt Anais Coviaux.

There was no first aid nearby. Mr Coviaux carried his son and they walked until they found someone who drove them to the hospital. When they passed some firefighters, they asked them to try to revive him. But the child was dead.

Ms Coviaux said her brother and his wife were too distraught to speak. The entire family gathered on the promenade on Saturday to view the last sights Yanis had seen. "It was important for us to come to the place he died to pay him a tribute," Ms Coviaux said, "because we could not bear to say goodbye to him. We left a picture of him and flowers."

Identifying and examining children has been difficult because of the level of trauma and because some were in hospital without relatives, said child psychiatrist Sylvie Serret. "A lot of the children coming in were in a state of shock," she said.

Amid the despair, there were also heartwarming stories. A baby boy who went missing during the attack has been reunited with his family after a Facebook appeal went viral.

Ms Yohlaine Ramasitera, a friend of the boy's parents, posted a picture of herself with the baby. Within two hours, she was contacted by a local woman who had found the baby and taken him home, reported BBC.

The boy is said to be safe and well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline '10 kids among dead, many others scarred by carnage'. Print Edition | Subscribe