'There were so many families, kids and prams' - South African in Nice

2016-07-15 14:53
A South African family crossed a road to eat dinner at a restaurant off the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, minutes before a truck barrelled through and killed at least 84 people. (Facebook)

A South African family crossed a road to eat dinner at a restaurant off the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, minutes before a truck barrelled through and killed at least 84 people. (Facebook)

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Cape Town - A South African family crossed a road to eat dinner at a restaurant off the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, minutes before a truck barrelled through and killed at least 84 people.

Henri Meistre, who works in the automotive industry and is from Johannesburg, posted on Facebook shortly afterward that they were safe.

His photos also depicted the street store where he, wife Adele and sons Trent, 17, and Remy, 16, had bought sweets from moments earlier.

The Meistres arrived in Nice last week and had spent time in Portugal.

On holiday with another family, they enjoyed the fireworks display for Bastille Day around 22:00.

"The whole promenade was closed off to traffic and there were a couple of bands playing. The fireworks were spectacular and ended about 22:25," Henri told News24 from Nice.

Missed truck by minutes

READ: Nice attack: At least 80 people dead

They walked up the stairs to a restaurant they had picked earlier in the evening, which was not more than 100m away.

"There were so many families, kids, and prams. It is a lovely, lovely place and really a holiday place. We crossed the road and probably missed the truck by three minutes, maybe five minutes," he said.

The two families had just sat down and pushed tables together when they heard screams.

"We just heard people screaming and this wave of people came running from the promenade up this road," he recalled.

They could not immediately make out what was wrong.

"My kids are in French schools and said they are shouting that there are attacks and we must run. So we ran with the crowd away from the beach."

'Tragic circumstances'

Ironically, he and his friend Michael Bradshaw had earlier that evening discussed that the promenade was the perfect place for an attack.

They agreed "to keep a look out for bags unaccompanied and to keep eyes and ears open".

Meistre did not go to the scene where bodies lay but described the television footage as "absolutely horrific".

"I can't unsee what I saw in terms of the video. We were sitting now having some lunch and agreed that we don't sweat the small stuff," he said.

"A lot of families are going home in serious tragic circumstances. People are either not with them or in hospital."

The family were flying back to SA on Saturday.

Read more on:    france

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