WITNESSES have described seeing “bodies flying like bowling pins” when a truck packed with weapons ploughed into a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in the French city of Nice.
President François Hollande addressed the nation and revealed that many of the 80 people killed were children. At least 18 are in a critical condition.
After Hollande’s speech, AFP claimed the interior ministry had confirmed the death toll had risen to 84.
He announced thousands of troops and police would be mobilised in the wake of the horror attack and the country’s state of emergency would be extended by three months. It was due to end on July 26.
“This is a monstrosity to use a truck to deliberately kill people, many people, who only came out to celebrate their national day,” Hollande said. “France is in tears, she is hurting but she is strong. She will be stronger.”
The death toll has been climbing since the attack began about 7.00am AEST. A spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry said “it’s going to be a very high toll”. The driver is among the dead.
The incident interrupted a fireworks display for the national celebration when the huge truck rammed into the crowd celebrating on the French Riviera.
Mown down bodies remain strewn on the streets and the scene has been described as “apocalyptic” and “carnage on the road”.
Christian Estrosi, president of the region, says the truck in that caused carnage in the southern city was loaded with grenades, guns and larger weapons.
Witnesses have described “running over bodies”. A French journalist at the scene said: “I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.”
A man who witnessed the attack told CNN he saw the driver accelerate and aim for people as the vehicle slammed the crowd. The truck continued about two kilometres through the city’s busy main drag mowing down people in its path.