French official: 84 dead, 18 critically ill


(CNN)France will once again fly its flags at half-staff to mourn the victims of a deadly terrorist attack on its soil.

At least 84 people were killed in Nice Thursday night when an apparent lone driver of a truck opened fire on a crowd and fatally mowed down people celebrating Bastille Day, the French national holiday.
Two victims were identified on Friday as Americans Sean Copeland, 51, and his son, Brodie, 11, from Texas, the Austin American-Statesman reported, citing a statement from the family.
U.S. officials confirmed that at least two Americans were killed in the attack, but did not name them.
The Mediterranean city, popular with tourists for its beaches, was left devastated by the horrific attack, as authorities covered the dead in the street with blue tarpaulins so that emergency vehicles could find them for evacuation.
“France has been struck once again in her flesh, on the 14th of July, on the day of our national celebration,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday.
The attacker wanted to “harm the very idea of national unity,” he said, adding solemnly that France is having to learn to live with regular attacks.
Just hours before the carnage, hundreds, if not thousands, had gathered on the famous Promenade des Anglais, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, in a colorful display of fireworks and live music.
But as the last firework fizzled, the gunfire rang out and the white truck accelerated down the crowded street. Among the dead were several children, officials said. At least 18 people remain in critical condition and the death toll grew through the night.
Although the road was cordoned off, the driver managed to cover more than a mile along the packed waterfront strip before being shot by police.
Andy McArdy told CNN he saw the truck driving at high speed along the promenade and the driver “was firing a machine gun while driving.”
He said everyone ran, many into a restaurant. “They didn’t know where to go, they were looking for an exit — they were hoping they’d find an exit out the back. They had to stay there for a couple of hours, but people wouldn’t even come out — they were so frightened — until the police came and said it was OK to come out,” he said.
Valls said French President François Hollande had called for three days of mourning, from Saturday to Monday.
Apart from the Americans confirmed dead, three Australians were injured, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said a UK national was also injured. Two Chinese citizens were injured as well, the Chinese consulate in Marseille told CNN.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s