France grieves for those mercilessly murdered in Nice

Roses and burnt candles line the streets of Nice's waterfront boulevard. It is one of the first signs that the French are returning to reclaim their beloved Promenade des Anglais after the horrific attack on Thursday that killed dozens.

A few people are sunning themselves on the beach, while others splash around in the azure water. Close by the French flag flies at half-mast as a man looks around while holding a photo of a 42-year-old woman. "I'm searching for this woman," he says desperately. No one is able to help him.

It will take time before the city processes the deaths, said Christian Estrosi, former major and current president of the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d'Azur region. He stops to honour victims in front of a small memorial of flowers and candles erected on a traffic island. Things are calm compared to only a day and a half ago when the city was traumatized with panic and fear.

Sixteen of the 84 victims who died in the attack have yet to be identified and there are still five children fighting for their lives in hospital. The youngest child to sustain injuries is just 6 months old. At the Pasteur II hospital, scores of adults are also being treated.

As with the terrorist attack in Paris last year, people in Nice are calmly and carefully trying to restore a sense of normality to their lives. Stores that closed on Friday have reopened again.

Older people can be seen sitting on the benches that line the promenade talking with one another. Others stroll along the wide pavements or on the cordoned-off side of the street.

That is where the 31-year-old Tunisian man, who ploughed through crowds of people watching a fireworks show in celebration of Bastille Day with a rented delivery truck, was shot by police.

Late Friday afternoon, the truck was hauled off. There is little physical evidence of the havoc Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel wreaked, but there is much left to sense.

There are blank stares and eyes on the brink of tears around every corner. Children can be seen placing flowers on the asphalt. Men, women, the young and old are all seen grieving.

A single rose placed on the dark asphalt has come to signal the loss of human life at this exact spot.

Messages reading "Love conquers hate," "I love Charlie, I love Paris, I love Nice, I love Paris," in tribute to the country's past attacks, and "In pain with you all," are scattered alongside the promenade.

"The Promenade des Anglais weeps for the dead," the French newspaper Le Figaro wrote.

There are not many barriers in Nice this Saturday. There are still dozens of television broadcast vans from news agencies around the world stationed in a specially allotted area.

The posh hotels, who served as emergency hospitals after the attack, can once again rent out their rooms. But the mood on the beaches is still sombre. The roses lie just a few metres away.

Last update: Sat, 16/07/2016 - 19:17

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