84 killed, many injured after van ploughs into crowd in Nice, France during Bastille Day celebrations

The Paris prosecutor's office launches a 'terrorism investigation' into an attack on the coastal city of Nice that killed scores of people watching a Bastille Day fireworks display.
The attack on a crowd of people in Nice, France was premeditated, regional president Christian Estrosi said
People lay flowers outside the French embassy in Moscow, on July 15, 2016, in tribute to the victims of the attack in Nice.
People lay flowers outside the French embassy in Moscow, on July 15, 2016, in tribute to the victims of the attack in Nice.PHOTO: AFP
An electronic board displays "Je suis Nice" outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 15, 2016.
An electronic board displays "Je suis Nice" outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 15, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
A member of the French community holds a candle during a vigil in Bangkok, on July 15, 2016.
A member of the French community holds a candle during a vigil in Bangkok, on July 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
A girl holds up a placard during a prayer meet to show solidarity with the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at a school in Ahmedabad, India, ON July 15, 2016.
A girl holds up a placard during a prayer meet to show solidarity with the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at a school in Ahmedabad, India, ON July 15, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
A man places a bouquet of flowers in front of a barricade at the French Embassy in Berlin, Germany, on July 15, 2016.
A man places a bouquet of flowers in front of a barricade at the French Embassy in Berlin, Germany, on July 15, 2016.PHOTO: EPA
A woman writes in a condolence book at the French embassy in Bratislava, on July 15, 2016, to commemorate the victims of the deadly attacks in Nice.
A woman writes in a condolence book at the French embassy in Bratislava, on July 15, 2016, to commemorate the victims of the deadly attacks in Nice.PHOTO: AFP
French President Francois Hollande (centre), flanked by French ministers, delivers a speech to police officers, firemen and rescue workers at the Prefectoral Palace in Nice, France, on July 15, 2016.
French President Francois Hollande (centre), flanked by French ministers, delivers a speech to police officers, firemen and rescue workers at the Prefectoral Palace in Nice, France, on July 15, 2016.PHOTO: EPA
People gather in front of the memorial set on the Promenade des Anglais, on July 15, 2016, where the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations, in Nice, France.
People gather in front of the memorial set on the Promenade des Anglais, on July 15, 2016, where the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations, in Nice, France.PHOTO: EPA
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14. PHOTO: EPA
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice,France on July 14.
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice,France on July 14.PHOTO: EPA
Emergency team assist wounded people as they are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.
Emergency team assist wounded people as they are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.PHOTO: EPA
Wounded people are evacuated by emergency teams from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.
Wounded people are evacuated by emergency teams from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14. PHOTO: EPA
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.
Wounded people are evacuated from the scene where a truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France on July 14.PHOTO: EPA
Bodies seen on the ground on July 15 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, on July 14.
Bodies seen on the ground on July 15 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, on July 14.PHOTO: REUTERS
An injured person seen on the ground after dozens were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on July 14.
An injured person seen on the ground after dozens were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on July 14.PHOTO: REUTERS
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck on July 15 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing several people in Nice, France, on July 14.
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck on July 15 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing several people in Nice, France, on July 14. PHOTO: REUTERS
People fleeing the scene, according to a video uploaded to social media.
People fleeing the scene, according to a video uploaded to social media.PHOTO: TWITTER
A body is seen on the ground July 15 after several people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14.
A body is seen on the ground July 15 after several people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14.PHOTO: REUTERS
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice.
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice.PHOTO: AFP

NICE, France (AFP, REUTERS) – Terrified revellers screamed as a truck ploughed at speed into a crowd of fireworks spectators in Nice, turning Bastille Day celebrations into a night of horror on Thursday (July 14).  

Eighty-four people had been killed and 18 were in “critical condition”, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said on Friday (July 15). 

Other media reports said up to 100 people have been injured. Two Chinese were among those injured, according to the Xinhua news agency.

AFP correspondent Robert Holloway, who was among the the crowd celebrating France’s national day on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, had to shield his face from flying debris as the truck plunged 2km along the beachfront, mowing people down.  

“It was absolute chaos,” Mr Holloway said.  

“We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around. I had to protect my face from flying debris.”

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People screamed and scattered as the truck veered down the palm-lined promenade where thousands of adults and children had gathered for the fireworks, walking towards the famous Negresco Hotel.

“For a big truck like that to get actually onto the promenade and then to go in a fairly straight line along there, looked to me like a very deliberate act,” Mr Holloway said.  “It was about 100m from me and I had a few seconds to get out of the way.” 

Other witnesses described hearing gunfire, although this was not immediately confirmed by the authorities.  

Police could be seen surrounding the truck in the early hours of Friday, its windscreen riddled with bullet holes, under the lights of the Negresco Hotel.  

Witness Roy Calley, who said he lived 200m from the promenade, told the BBC there was “all hell breaking loose” and the situation was “pretty horrendous”.  

“It was a celebratory atmosphere, it was fun, people were enjoying themselves.  Suddenly I heard a huge, what I can only describe as maybe an explosion or a crash.  A lot of people were screaming. That was followed by what I thought were maybe gunshots.”

Australian Emily Watkins said she was less than 50m away from the incident and saw the truck on the promenade but did not realise what was happening.  

“There was a lot of confusion. I don’t actually remember seeing the truck moving,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  “There was a lot of screams coming from ahead of us where the truck was, and people just running towards us and without really knowing what was going on we turned and ran as well.

“As we were running away we could hear what I thought at the time were more flares or fireworks, she said. “People were tripping over and trying to get into hotel lobbies and restaurants or car parks or anywhere they could to get away from the street.”

Fear spread across the city as hundreds of people hid and locked themselves in cafes and bars to protect themselves from possible attack, the Daily Mail Online reported.

Reports said the driver of the truck, which officials said was loaded with “heavy weapons, had been killed and an accomplice was on the run. 

Prosecutors said the probe would be handled by anti-terrorist investigators.  

“Investigations are currently under way to establish if the individual acted alone or if he had accomplices who might have fled,” the interior ministry spokesman said, but he denied reports that a hostage-taking incident had taken place.

President Francois Hollande’s office said he would preside over a meeting of the country’s defence and security chiefs on Friday.

The bloodshed comes eight months after Islamic State fighters attacked Paris nightspots and left 130 people dead, dealing a hard blow to tourism in one of the world’s top destinations.  

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has repeatedly singled out France as a prime target, and the country has been under a state of emergency ever since the Nov 13 Paris attacks.

The Mediterranean city of Nice, with its pebble beaches and clear blue water, has been a magnet for sun-seekers and the jetset since the 19th century.

The assault came just hours after France announced that a state of emergency declared after last November’s attacks would come to an end later this month.  

Mr Hollande said the decree would not be renewed beyond July 26, because a law permanently bolstering security in France was adopted in May.

President Barack Obama on Thursday condemned the deadly attack and offered any assistance France needs to investigate.

“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians,” Mr Obama said in a statement.  

The incident prompted Mr Donald Trump, who is running for president, to abruptly postpone his planned announcement on Friday of his vice presidential running mate.

Downing Street said on Friday British Prime Minister Theresa May is being briefed on the “terrible incident” in Nice and the UK authorities stand ready to assist their French counterparts.