Thousands of Parisians attended vigils across Paris, despite the government’s ban on public gathering following the horrifying Paris attacks on November 13.
Paris residents were asked not to attend any public demonstrations for the next five days. Despite the ban on public gathering, people from across Paris came together at significant buildings and squares to mourn together publicly. However, one vigil at the Place de la Republique square became a scene of panic when fireworks were mistaken for gunshots. As a result of the scare, thousands of mourners ran for their lives, trampling the flowers placed for the victims, and knocking over candles. One woman fell into the fiery candle bed as she attempted to flee the scene.
The Daily Mail reported that thousands of Parisians came together to mourn publicly following the horrifying terrorist attacks that left 129 people dead and over 300 injured. However, one vigil turned into a nightmare as mourners fled in fear as fireworks went off nearby. The frightened vigil-goers heard the fireworks and thought they were gunshots. As a result, people began screaming and running away in panic. Some trampled over the flowers and candles setup for the vigil, while one woman can be seen falling onto the bed of candles as people flee around her.
Another video shows a reporter interviewing a woman when the chaos erupted.
Finally, a third video shows the mass panic as a group flees the area of the vigil. The large group of people run away from the area as the camera captures the horrifying moment. People are mostly quiet as they run with a few screams heard in the background.
Other photos taken from the vigil chaos shows people piling into a restaurant as they attempt to get out of the streets. The restaurant is packed with individuals while broken glass and overturned tables can be seen outside. As a result of the chaotic scene, police were called to the area with weapons drawn. The visual of the police with weapons sent more people into panic. Many people were reportedly too scared to come out of nearby restaurants — so scared that police had to personally walk to all the establishments and inform those that fled the scene that all was clear.
Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor for the Daily Mail, was caught in the middle of the panic when the train door opened near the Place de la Republique square. He says that people began bombarding the train and screaming for the driver to pull away from the station. He said it was very clear that the people feared for their lives and thought that an attack was taking place above ground. Simons says the confusion caused further panic on the train with people unsure as to what was happening above.
“I was on the Metro and about to get off at the Place de la Republique station. The doors opened and a screamed announcement came over the tannoy. About 60 or 70 people dashed down the stairs and jumped onto the train, spreading panic. Clearly, they believed an attack was going on above ground and had run into the Metro for safety. Everybody started moving along the train to get as far away as possible. Nobody got off. People were begging the driver to close the doors and move the train down the track. After a few seconds the train went on to the next station.”
When he got off of the train, Simons stated that things were still chaotic with police sirens filling the air. The panic also caused some injuries. Simons continued on to say that once he exited the train, he ran into a man who was bleeding badly from the wrist. He had apparently been knocked down during the stampede and cut himself on glass.
“It was about 25 minutes before the word spread that there was no immediate danger. This all just goes to show that in addition to the sorrow and the defiance, Paris is now a city in the grip of fear.”
[Image via AP Photo/Peter Dejong]