It was a lovely night in Nice, Damien Allemand recalled. Thousands of people thronged the seaside promenade that skirts the edge of the city, faces tilted upward to watch fireworks explode overhead in honour of France's favourite holiday. Light and music spilled from restaurants, cheers punctuated the bursts of fireworks.
Allemand, a reporter for Nice Matin, a local newspaper, was on his way to leave when he heard the crack of gunshots cut through the revelry. A fraction of a second later, a huge white truck went roaring past. It ploughed into the crowds, as though it intended to hit as many people as possible.
"I saw bodies flying like bowling pins in its path. Heard sounds, howls that I will never forget," Allemand wrote in a post on the newspaper's website. The "truck of death", as he called it, had passed just several metres from where he stood.
For a moment, Allemand was frozen. People streamed past him, screaming, crying. He heard someone yell, "Get to shelter." Another pleaded, "Where is my son?" Finally, he turned and ran.
The attack in the French Riviera city of Nice yesterday left at least 84 people dead and 18 more critically injured. The driver of the truck mowed down dozens of people and fired on others before being shot down by police, regional president Christian Estrosi said.
The bloody attack came at the end of one of France's most important holidays, Bastille Day, which came at the start of the French Revolution 226 years ago. All around the country, people marked the occasion with military parades and fireworks displays.
At 10.30pm local time, in a matter of moments, the celebration came to to a sudden, bloody end.
Maryam Violet, an Iranian journalist on vacation in Nice, told the Guardian she was part of the crowd watching the fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais.
"It was so peaceful. It was a festivity vibe," she said.
The show had just ended, and people were beginning to disperse, when the truck came barrelling toward them.
"You just see this big white ... truck," said Tony Molina, a witness who spoke to CNN. "I can't see the driver but it's just kind of going at different angles, so it's going from left to right, continuing at about 25, 30 miles per hour [50km/h]."
"People were fleeing and shouting," Violet said. "People were shouting, 'It's a terrorist attack! It's a terrorist attack!' It was clear that the driver was doing it deliberately."
Estrosi, who is a former Mayor of Nice and currently president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, told French TV that the attack was "clearly premeditated".
Authorities later found arms and explosives inside the truck, although there were reports they were an inactive grenade and fake rifles.
The crowd, which contained tourists and Nice natives, fled on to side streets and into restaurants. Videos taken from the scene showed terrified people screaming in a mix of languages.
Allemand, the journalist, said he took cover in a restaurant and waited for the volley of gunshots to end.
When he emerged, the promenade was empty, he wrote: "No noise. Not a siren. No cars." He walked back toward the spot where the truck had come to rest. The windshield was riddled with bullets. Nearby, a man was crying.