• France's news in English

Bataclan survivor tells of moment of doom

AFP/The Local · 15 Nov 2015, 14:45

Published: 15 Nov 2015 14:45 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Instead, it became a nightmare in which his life hung by a thread, his fate determined by killers with Kalashnikovs and explosives.

David, 23, had gone to the Bataclan, a 1,500-seat concert hall in the heart of Paris, with four friends for a Friday night gig by the Eagles of Death Metal.

He was watching from the first floor when at 9.45pm - "just when it was shaping up to be a really neat concert" - he heard a series of popping sounds.

"I thought, that sounds a lot like a Kalashnikov," said David. "I used to play Counter-Strike," an online game which features gun-wielding terrorists.

Initially, he thought it was a wacky stunt by the band, but that thought evaporated.

"I looked down at the stalls and saw people being killed, and then I smelt the powder - I realised that it was an attack, and I shouted at everyone to take cover."

He began to hunt for an exit, only to come across a dead end - but it had a window.

Desperate, he and others climbed out, and hung from the ledge some seven metres (25 feet) above the streets of Paris - a scene that was captured on mobile phone by a Le Monde journalist and is now viral on the Internet.

Grotesque show

A gunmen forced them back into the building, where they were made to watch a macabre spectacle.

"He made us take our seats while another guy down on the floor continued to fire into the crowd, slaughtering people. For five minutes, the gunmen next to us tried to boost our confidence. Then there was a huge explosion."

David, who spoke to AFP on Sunday on condition of anonymity, recalled his feelings of anguish.

"It was horrible, dreadful to feel so trapped - there was a bloodbath unfolding. They were killing everyone."

With the initial assault now turning into a massacre, French security forces intervened, firstly using a hostage negotiator to seek a truce, then sending in an assault team.

Story continues below…

"There was a huge flash of light and an enormous explosion,' the heat of which singed "several centimetres (inches)" off David's hair in what he believed was the moment when the attackers detonated suicide vests.

He crawled outside to safety, where police were waiting, and eventually found his friends. One of them, Laure - her name has been changed for the interview - had been on the ground floor "and hid among the bodies to survive. It's a miracle."

Eighty-nine people were killed in the Bataclan, the deadliest site in the coordinated attacks in Paris where at least 129 people were slain.

Today, after reassuring friends and family that he survived, David looks back on those dreadful moments of "impotence and rage."

"You cannot imagine how powerless you feel. If I had had a gun, I would have opened fire, rather than sit in front of a window waiting for death to arrive."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available