As Tourists Flee Nice in Fear, Relatives of the Victims Move In

A restaurant donates tablecloths to cover the dead, while taxi drivers volunteer to transport relatives to hospitals; as Nice reels a day after a deadly attack, the question on everyone’s mind is, what do we do now?

A view of the Nice promenade on July 15, 2016, a day after a massive truck-ramming attack.
AP / Christian Alminana

Hundreds of tourists have fled Nice in panic since the truck-ramming attack Thursday night that killed more than 80 people, desk employees at local hotels told Haaretz.

Major hotels in the resort city are now completely booked for the opposite reason: relatives of the dead and wounded, many arriving from Britain.

Police sources have told Reuters that a 31-year-old Tunisian-born Frenchman was responsible for ramming his truck into crowds along the famous seafront promenade, which was still blocked at its western end on Friday afternoon.

Restaurant tablecloths at the famous Hotel Negresco are being used to cover bodies still strewn along the beach. The Nice Red Cross does not have enough sheets to cover the dead.

Taxi drivers, through their powerful union, volunteered Thursday night to take dozens of people with missing relatives to local hospitals. As usual after a major terror attack, cellphone service was spotty, something that compounded the anxiety a day after the incident on France’s national holiday.

The union’s deputy head, Jean Santiani, said he had personally transported 17 people to different emergency wards. He strained to hold back his tears  while describing an English mother who clutched her daughter’s doll on the way to a hospital. The girl was separated from her mother when tourists and locals fled to evade the rampaging truck.

The area of the incident is smaller than what was originally described: two kilometers of a beautiful promenade a tourist cliché with its blue sea, tall palm trees and benches all around.

In the distance warships patrol, a silent testimony to the question on everyone’s mind: What to do now?