Tourists and locals had flocked with their families to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, a city on the French Riviera, for the fireworks display on Bastille Day, France's national day. As the display came to an end, a different kind of sound overtook the area â€” screams, gunshots and the horrible crunching noise of bodies falling after being ploughed down by a massive truck.
A white truck with its lights off entered the promenade from a side street near the Foundation Lenval children's hospital. It then turned left and charged towards the innocent bystanders standing on the footpath and enjoying the fireworks display.
The truck mowed down bodies one by one.
"Nobody in the way stood a chance," Pierre Roux, who saw the attack from his house overlooking the sea, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
Other witnesses who were standing on their balconies saw the gory scene play out. One family with their 14-year-old son saw the truck squashing people.
I grabbed my son, and i just felt like shielding him and protecting him from seeing that," she told CNN. "He's really shaken," she said. "People should not see these types of things."
The truck driver, whose name has not been revealed to the public as the investigation is going on, was found with documents saying that he was a 31-year-old French-Tunisian man.
He fired several shots at the crowd with his pistol before being 'neutralised' by the police.
Within a few moments of the gun fire everything went very quiet, very eerily quiet and then you started hearing wailing and screaming and crying," Dominique Molina told CNN.
Hoards of screaming people ran in the opposite direction, even those who did not know what had occurred just followed the crowd and ran to save their lives. Some took shelter in nearby hotels and restaurants, while others were not so lucky.
One of the first people to be mowed down was a middle-aged Muslim woman, the NYT reported. Her family stood around her body wailing or in shock.
Bodies littered the road next to the Lenval beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. They were shrouded with table clothes pulled out from restaurants in the area. A pink doll sat next to a body, small in size, covered with a silver-coloured shroud, on the main road.
Families surrounded bodies of loved ones, and cried. Soon, the police asked them to clear out the area and the bodies lay on the ground.
After the attack, French President Francois Hollande was quoted as saying by the BBC that "operational reserves" will be pressed into service along with the Army and other security forces, with special focus on the borders.
He acknowledged on Thursday that "all of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism."