Kiwi witness to Nice attack: It was just horrific

By Tess Nichol

A Dunedin man who witnessed the carnage in Nice says the truck that mowed down Bastille Day revellers passed within metres of him.

Hamish Kay, 28, was among the crowds celebrating on Promenade des Anglais when the 25-tonne truck sped past about 30m away from him.

"It came to a stop very close to our apartment and workplace,'' Kay, a restaurant worker, said.

"The windshield [was] riddled with bullets.

"There were bodies just all along the promenade for at least a 2km stretch. It smashed into the crowd and you could see people bouncing off.

"It was just horrific.

"People at first were stunned and then began to run as police eventually opened fire on the man inside the truck and everyone just ran as police told everyone to get out.''

He said initially people were frightened it was a suicide attack and the truck was going to explode.

After helping an elderly couple, he went straight to the restaurant where his French girlfriend was working to make sure she knew he was safe and then contacted friends and family to let them know he was unharmed.

Another Kiwi, who has been living in Nice for nearly 20 years, said life in France now was like "living in an earthquake zone."

"Fortunately I wasn't caught up in the attack but having been a kiwi living and working in the Nice region for nearly 20 years it comes as a shock, but not a big surprise," Jonathan Alma told the Herald.

"People here are beginning to assume that there will be regular attacks in France and that this isn't going to go away anytime soon.

"This goes two ways - some people are getting increasingly nervous about going to public events, while others are a bit like those living in an earthquake zone: accept it may happen, be as ready as possible to deal with it when it does and try to stay calm.

"Otherwise live life pretty much as usual."

Alma said the mood at his work was low as people feared the worst - that a loved one would be announced injured or worse.

He said many of his co-workers were away for the long weekend so the process of finding out whether everyone was ok was ongoing.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there are no indications, at this stage, that any New Zealanders are among victims of the terror attack in Nice, France.

An MFAT spokesman said just before 11pm last night authorities had followed up all enquiries lodged with it about Kiwis thought to be Nice during today's attack, in which at least 84 people were killed, including several children.

"The Ministry continues to advise that anyone with concerns about a New Zealand family member in Nice should try and make direct contact in the first instance," the Ministry said in a statement.

New Zealanders currently in France are being urged to register their names on the www.safetravel.govt.nz website.

MFAT said there were 925 New Zealanders currently registered with the Ministry as being in France.

Anyone with ongoing concerns can contact MFAT on: (04) 439 8000.

The driver of the truck that ploughed into crowds celebrating Bastille Day has been formally identified, according to reports, most notably the BBC.

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, was identified by newspaper Nice-Matin which cited local sources.

He was a dual Tunisian-French national who lived in Nice.

His relatives are also being questioned by police.

- NZ Herald

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