I wanted to die with love in my heart - SA survivor of Paris attack

2015-11-19 10:55
(Screengrab from CNN)

(Screengrab from CNN)

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Cape Town - UCT graduate Isobel Bowdery, 22, whose harrowing first-hand account of the attack in a Paris concert hall last Friday went viral on Facebook, has given more details of how she tried to stay calm as gunmen killed at least 89 people around her.

- Read more: SA graduate tells how dozens shot right in front of her in Paris attack

Bowdery and her French boyfriend were interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday.

She told Cooper how the evening had started off like any other Friday night at a rock concert. "Everyone was dancing, smiling, happy... when the gunmen came in, it all changed."

The concertgoers initially thought this was part of the act and that the sounds they heard were fireworks. "Quickly we realised it was something serious, you could smell the gunpowder, you could hear the terror of people screaming, you knew it was gunfire."

Bowdery said the gunmen appeared to be calm, while she went into "complete shock".

"I couldn't believe this was happening. It didn't seem real, it felt like a nightmare, it felt like the worst horror film... you don't move, you pretend that you've already been shot, you pretend that you're dead, and that's what I did."

She recounted how she was so shocked she didn't cry, but it was important to her not to move or alert the attackers to the fact that she was still alive.

- Read more on the Paris attacks.

Despite the "terror and anguish" in the concert hall, Bowdery said she could feel a lot of love and positivity.

"It's what you do when you're so close to death... you want to be with your family, with your friends, you want to tell them that you love them, you don't want them to think of the pain you're going through...

"I said out loud I love you... it was important that if I was going to die, if the next bullet was for me, that I left saying I love you. I said it to every single person that I'd ever loved, and in that way it felt okay to die if I had love in my heart, and it reflected on a great life.

"I didn't want them to have their horrible actions determine the end of my life, I didn't want them to win, I wanted the people I loved to win, to know that they blessed me with an incredible life."

Bowdery's initial Facebook post, which drew around three million likes, has been taken down after a number of fake Facebook accounts emerged, some of which were critical of the media coverage of the Paris attacks, CNN reported.

- Watch the CNN video here.

Isobel Bowdery's bloodied top (Facebook)

Read more on:    cape town  |  france  |  paris under attack

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