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VOA Producer, a Witness in Nice, Says Sense of Danger Pervades City

Parents of victims embrace each other near the scene of a truck attack in Nice, France, July 15, 2016.

VOA executive TV producer Linda Ringe, who was on vacation in Nice, France, on Thursday when a man in a truck killed 84 people in an attack on a Bastille Day crowd, said Friday that a sense of danger remained in the city, despite a return to normalcy in some parts.

On the Promenade des Anglais, the scene of the attack, the scene was far from normal, Ringe said.

"The promenade is closed to traffic. There’s a heavy police presence," she said. "There is kind of a camp for the media for live shots, for the media, and that’s where I am with my husband, who is reporting for MSNBC. So there are people watching the media and the beach looks closed, and I don’t see anyone in the water.

"Now when you go off the Promenade Des Anglais into town, it seems like nothing ever happened. People and tourists [are] walking, eating, drinking or shopping, but there’s an underlying presence of danger."

In the wake of the attack, French President Francois Hollande extended France's state of emergency, set to end later this month, by another three months. But Ringe said people she had spoken with didn't think the extension would do much to stop terrorist attacks.

People pray at Sainte-Reparate Cathedral in Nice, France, during a mass in memory of the terrorist attack victims, July 15, 2016.
People pray at Sainte-Reparate Cathedral in Nice, France, during a mass in memory of the terrorist attack victims, July 15, 2016.

"They saw what happened for the first three months — it didn’t really do very much," she said. "They’re just shrugging their shoulders."

View of tragedy

Ringe was in an apartment building overlooking the Promenade des Anglais and was enjoying the holiday fireworks display. She and her husband had just left the window after the display was over when the attack occurred.

"Suddenly, we heard this screaming and running, and we ran to the window and saw all this, and we went downstairs," she said. "It was even before the police arrived, so the bodies were just lying there. Right in front of our apartment building, there were maybe a dozen bodies. So it was very, very upsetting."

A family that had just escaped the mayhem was huddled in the apartment building lobby.

"They were so shaken, and the man said it was the worst day of his life," Ringe said. "He saw the vehicle and he pulled his wife and two children away from it, and he was about a meter away. And he was visibly shaking."

Ringe said people in Nice were trying to resume their normal lives Friday, "but it's going to be hard."