PARIS – A truck plowed into a large crowd watching the annual Bastille Day fireworks on the promenade in Nice on Thursday night, and witnesses reported hearing gunshots.
Christian Estrosi, the deputy mayor of Nice, said that more than 70 people had been killed. “The truck was full of weapons and grenades,” Estrosi said on French television. It was not clear what motivated the driver to veer into the crowd.
Officials asked people to stay indoors.
Conflicting accounts of the deaths and injuries emerged from multiple sources after the episode, with many reporting high numbers of casualties.
The sub-prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Sebastien Humbert, told the French network BFMTV: “There are several dozen dead. The total is very high, 30 dead. Maybe 100 wounded. There was a truck that drove into the crowd, over a very long distance. There were shots. The driver was shot. This is on a big scale.”
Daphne Burande, 15, who was at a bar near the beach to watch the fireworks, said: “We were enjoying the celebrations when we suddenly saw people running everywhere and tables being pushed down by the movement of panic.”
“No one explained to us what was happening and I heard some gunshots not very far away,” she said. “I waited at the bar for more information because I thought it was a false alert. But then, people were still running.”
France has been on alert for a terrorist attack for months, and officials have warned repeatedly that another attack is likely. Last November, attacks in and around Paris killed 130 people.
On Twitter, a woman who said her terrace overlooked the promenade where the episode unfolded reported hearing gunfire.
Several witnesses spoke on iTele, a French television station. A man who gave his name as Michel, working at the Voilier Plage restaurant in front of the Promenade des Anglais, said that around 10:30 p.m., Nice time, a large white truck drove into a crowd that had gathered near the beach to watch Bastille Day fireworks.
The Prefecture of Police in Nice said that the driver had been neutralized.