Death Toll Continues To Rise After Attack In Nice, France
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Families were on the boardwalk at the edge of the Mediterranean watching a fireworks show for Bastille Day. That's when a massive truck accelerated into the crowd. The deputy mayor of Nice says at least 77 people were killed and many more injured. Our next guest is Tom Bergin, a reporter for Reuters who is there on the scene in Nice. Thank you for joining us.
TOM BERGIN: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: I understand you were on the boardwalk where this happened. Describe what you are seeing right now.
BERGIN: Well, I was at the board - well, the Promenade des Anglais it's called. And it's the main sort of strip in Nice. It's a wonderful palm-lined and very broad promenade. And it's sort of the main tourist attraction in Nice and it's indeed true for the locals, too. It's currently, though, is covered in police vehicles. It's totally cordoned off. There's no access to the promenade. There are armed police at every intersection approaching the road. And then actually some blocks away from that they're severely restricting traffic and people moving into the center of the city.
Now, at the moment, there are still a lot of emergency vehicles there. There are ambulances and I said armed police. There are also helicopters arriving and departing. So there's still quite a lot of activity there. Although, by this stage, we understand that most of the injured have been moved to hospital and indeed the deceased, many of those have also been moved away.
SHAPIRO: Just, you know, we have heard some reports, though not yet official, that the truck may have driven more than a mile through the crowd. If that is the case, this would be just a massive crime scene with so many casualties.
BERGIN: Absolutely. I spoke with one woman who was sitting in a cafe on the promenade and she saw this, you know, (unintelligible) you know, an enormous white truck go whizzing past. And it was just a sight that was just for her astounding because she wasn't expecting to see any vehicles moving past. It was all - it was a pedestrianized area. And that continued for some time before, you know, it stopped and then she heard these these, you know, what we now know, of course, was shooting.
But, yes, this, went on - there were reports of up to two kilometers. The promenade is exceptionally long. It goes on for miles and miles. It's - usually, it's a lovely drive. It goes all the way from the airport into the center of the city. So, yes, at this - in this incident, it was really quite an extended crime scene.
SHAPIRO: In these early hours after an attack like this, there are often reports that are difficult to pin down. For example, we have heard conflicting reports about whether there was gunfire exchanged, whether there was one person or more than one person in the truck. Can you tell us anything about that?
BERGIN: Well, at the moment, we're waiting for the interior minister, who's expected in Nice any time now. He's going to come down and myself and other media are expecting to hear from him, you know, some of the details that we're currently missing. We don't have the full details about what exactly the identity of the individual, the motives of that - the potential motives of that individual. We've also heard reports about grenades and other things being found in the vehicle.
So really at this point in time, it's not very clear. The police have also asked people to stop posting photographs to Twitter and to other social media in an attempt, I think, to, you know, to try to make sure that when information does come out it's official. So it's - at the moment, it's a very conflicted picture. And we just really don't have all the facts at this point in time. But hopefully we will get that with the arrival of the interior minister.
SHAPIRO: What else have you heard from witnesses who you spoke to who were on the scene tonight?
BERGIN: Well, I mean, obviously, this is - this is the biggest night of the year for France. It's the quatorze juillet. It's the Independence Day. It's Bastille Day. And this is - it's also really the beginning of the summer in many ways. The schools are now closing. So it's the - the holiday season is taking off. So this is a - this is a big night in Nice and people would have expected it to go on very much later.
But you're really looking at a city now where people are walking home somewhat dazed, clearly upset. We're seeing many shaken people. People are recounting stories of just, you know, being stunned by what's happened around them. And it's really a city that should be sort of beginning to sleep off a hangover or what might become one. But it's a very different kind of atmosphere, one of really of shock rather than going home to bed after a really great night out.
SHAPIRO: That's Reuters reporter Tom Bergin speaking with us from Nice, France. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.