Paris attacks: 3 Singaporean students recount panic; SMU confirms all 70 students in France are safe

People fleeing the Oberkampf area following a series of terror attacks on entertainment sites at the same time in Paris.
People fleeing the Oberkampf area following a series of terror attacks on entertainment sites at the same time in Paris. PHOTO: AFP
People warming up under protective thermal blankets as they gather on a street near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal attacks in Paris, France, on Nov 14, 2015.
People warming up under protective thermal blankets as they gather on a street near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal attacks in Paris, France, on Nov 14, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore students Diana Poh, Eugene Peter and Ong Zihui ran for their lives as multiple terrorist attacks on entertainment sites took place in France's capital city on Friday (Nov 13) night, leaving at least 120 dead and five assailants killed.

Speaking to The Straits Times at 8.30am Saturday morning, the three students from Singapore Management University, who are in Paris on an exchange programme, reported that they were safe in their apartment near the Republic Metro station.

They say it is about a 10-minute walk away from the Bataclan concert area where hostages were taken. Media reported that dozens at Bataclan were killed when French forces launched a rescue operation.

The three said they were still in a state of shock.

Ms Poh, 22, said: "It's about two hours now since we ran back to the apartment... We saw panic. Even now, in our apartment, we can still hear screams and shouting going on."

She said friends and relatives in Singapore had been texting them updates about what was happening. "They told us to run the moment we alighted from the metro station."

Mr Peter, 24, added: "We heard there were shootings when we asked someone to translate the French train announcement about what was going on. My friends were also telling me the gunmen were still on the loose at the time."

Ms Ong, 22, added that they had locked their apartment. "Our neighbours have done the same. We can still see people running across the streets from our window," she said.

The trio went to Paris in late August and are studying there till December.

In a Facebook post on Saturday evening, SMU confirmed that all its 70 students who are on the school's international student exchange programme in various institutions in France have been accounted for and are safe. SMU said out of the 70, 35 are studying in or near Paris.

The university said in a Facebook post that it will continued to stay in regular contact with its students and monitor their situation. "Their safety remains the University’s top priority, and we will provide the best possible assistance to them accordingly."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement that the ministry and its embassy in Paris have contacted the vast majority of registered Singaporeans in Paris and established that they are safe.

"MFA will continue to contact the remaining handful of registered Singaporeans until all are accounted for. Our Embassy is also in contact with the French authorities. Thus far, we have no reports of Singaporeans directly affected by the attacks. MFA will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Singaporeans residing in and travelling to Paris are advised to stay indoors, monitor local news, and heed the instructions of the local authorities, MFA said.

Singaporeans should contact the Singapore Embassy at +33 6 7503 2555 or singemb_par@mfa.sg if they require any urgent assistance, MFA said.

Alternatively, they may contact the 24-hour MFA Duty Office at +65 6379 8800 / 8855 or mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg. Singaporeans who are in or visiting Paris are advised to register with the Singapore Embassy at http://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/.