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France 24 Reporter Recounts Scene Outside Concert Hall


Witness accounts are starting to trickle in, and earlier tonight, we were able to reach Cyvil Vanier of the news organization France 24. Now, he was standing not far from the Bataclan concert hall. That's where police are saying more than a hundred people were killed.

CYVIL VANIER: I just had to step back, but just a few moments ago, I would say I was about 200 meters away. But it's really pretty close. And I think that's an indication of how little time the police had to sort of cordon off and secure the area. It's one of their priorities, of course, when these things happen, and they were not able to get people as far back as probably they would've liked given the circumstances.

CORNISH: As we described earlier, this did - was described as a hostage situation. That is now over. But were you able to speak to any survivors of what is shaping up to be a massacre?

VANIER: No. The survivors have not had any contact with the media. I'm talking about the people who were inside the concert hall. They were all taken to a restaurant several hundred meters away from here, and that's where they're being looked at. Some of the people - I have a journalist colleague who's right there. He's on the other side of the avenue from where I'm standing, and he's just seen that scene that I'm describing. Some people - some of the victims - he just sent me pictures - are on the ground. And they're getting life support right now. They're getting first aid. They're getting emergency treatment. Other people are being dispatched to hospitals. It's the sort of triage center, if you will, an emergency one of course, where survivors are being evaluated for the level of their seriousness of their casualties, and they're being treated accordingly.

CORNISH: What, if anything, have you been able to learn from security there about what may have happened earlier tonight inside that hall?

VANIER: Well, what we have are a few eyewitness accounts of people who were inside the concert hall. Now, bear in mind, this is just one of several places, several sites that were attacked in Paris. There were three, four, possibly even more sites that were attacked. We're still trying to gather all the information. But at least four places were attacked in the French capital.

What we know from people inside this concert hall is that three to four armed gunmen walked in. They were not wearing masks. Apparently they were calm. And they opened fire and it lasted at least 10 minutes. And people who were inside describe a bloodbath. They describe scenes of war, and that helps explain why the number of casualties was so high. Bear in mind, this is a Friday evening in central Paris. This is the kind of neighborhood where people go out. This is a popular concert venue. Apparently it was sold out, and it had a capacity of 1,600. So those casualties may very well rise unfortunately.

CORNISH: Cyvil Vanier of France 24, thank you so much for speaking with us.

VANIER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.