Death Toll Rises to 84, Including Children, After Truck Plows Into Bastille Day Crowd in Nice, France

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The sun rose Friday morning on the Mediterranean city of Nice, and a city devastated by what appears to be the latest, horrifying terror attack on French soil.

Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 84 have been reported dead after a truck careened through crowds on a seafront street, according to French media.

Hundreds, if not thousands, were out on the streets, celebrating Bastille Day, France's answer to July 4th, with fireworks and a beachfront concert.

It was here, just after the last firework had fizzled out, that an apparent single driver in a large white truck first opened fire into the crowd before plowing through horrified tourists and residents who had packed the famous Promenade des Anglais, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

Among the dead, several children. At least 18 people remain in critical condition. Although the road was cordoned off, the driver managed to go more than a mile along the packed waterfront before being shot by police.

Attack on France's 'symbol of liberty'

People react in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
People react in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande, in a national address in the early hours of the morning, said that it was without doubt a terror attack.

He added that the choice of the day -- Bastille Day, when France celebrates its post-French Revolution republic -- was particularly poignant.

He said that the day is a "symbol of liberty," and that "human rights are denied by fanatics and France is quite clearly their target."

Hollande added that he will travel to Nice on Friday once he has chaired a meeting of the Security and Defense Council.

The death toll grew through the night.

A soldier stands next to a dead body covered with a blue sheet on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
A soldier stands next to a dead body covered with a blue sheet on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display.
(Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Witness Tony Molina said he saw bodies of the dead lying in the street, covered in blue tarps and marked so emergency vehicles didn't run over them.

Hollande recommended that an existing state of emergency, put in place in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015 and due to expire later this month, be extended for three more months.

"France is afflicted, but she is strong, and she will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to strike her today," he said.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility.

Witnesses speak out

Eric Dartell was eating at a restaurant on the street where the incident happened. "You can see wreckage all along the way, a body, bicycles, street lamps and debris everywhere," he said.

A picture taken on July 14, 2016 shows a flash of lightning as fireworks explode over the French riviera city of Nice, southeastern France, as part of France's annual Bastille Day celebrations. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 14, 2016 shows a flash of lightning as fireworks explode over the French Riviera city of Nice, southeastern France, as part of France's annual Bastille Day celebrations. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

American Dominique Molina, who was watching from a balcony, said the fireworks had just ended and a crowd on the beach was disbanding.

"People were flooding the streets, just walking away from the show, and I heard a lot of loud noises and people were screaming and so to the west, a big moving truck was driving on the promenade, just barreling over people and hitting -- running people over."

She estimated the truck moved at 20-25 mph. Molina said her teenage son witnessed the carnage. "It's something you're not supposed to see," she said. "I grabbed my son, I felt like shielding him, protecting him from seeing that. It happened so fast, it was like in slow-motion."

Paul Delane, an American, described the chaos. "All of a sudden, just people, thousands of people, started running in one direction.

Rescue workers help an injured woman to get in a ambulance on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers help an injured woman to get in a ambulance on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

"My partner took my hand immediately and we started running with everybody and honestly in my head I had no idea what was going on and the music was so loud and I didn't really see a truck, but just people running and screaming and crying and people carrying their children, and it was just very frightening."

Facebook has activated the Safety Check feature for people in and around the area of the attack.

A tourist from Dallas, Kristen Crouch, lamented the climate of violence that spans the globe, from her hometown to the French city, where she was visiting for a friend's wedding.

"It's really sad when you you've been marked safe twice on Facebook in the last week. We shouldn't live in a world like that," she said.

"We quickly got back to the hotel and locked the door we locked door and plan on staying here."

Investigation underway

Anti-terror prosecutors have taken over the investigation, according to BFMTV, citing the prosecutor's office.

Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities are attempting to determine whether the identity card of a 31-year-old French-Tunisian found in the truck cab matches the body of the driver in the attack, according to a police source cited by AFP. The driver was a Nice resident, according to the Nice Matin newspaper.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he was deploying 70 police, medical and technical specialists in order to make sure that the remains of those killed were quickly returned to the families. Hospitals in the city have launched an urgent appeal for blood donors.

France had put intense security in place for Euro 2016, the international soccer tournament that just ended. No major attacks occurred during the event.

Solidarity, condemnation

Leaders around the world have denounced the brutal incident.

Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the center of French Riviera town of Nice, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the center of French Riviera town of Nice, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying, "We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack."

The presumptive nominees for the U.S. presidential election also reacted to the attack, taking strikingly different tones. Republican Donald Trump saying he'd ask for a declaration of war against ISIS while the Democrat candidate-in-waiting Hilary Clinton called for greater intelligence gathering to fight terror groups.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Canadians are shocked by tonight's attack in Nice. Our sympathy is with the victims, and our solidarity with the French people."

The United Nations condemned what it termed a "barbaric and cowardly" terror attack in Nice.

A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

As Asia woke up to the horrific news, India, China and South Korea's leaders added their voices to the chorus of condemnation.

The U.S. Consulate in Marseille advised U.S. citizens in Nice to call family and friends to notify them that they are safe . The Consulate said it was working with authorities to determine whether any U.S. citizens were injured.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Estrosi as the current mayor of Nice. A new mayor, Philippe Pradal, replaced Estrosi in June. The story has been updated.

Data pix.

Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand near a vehicle -- its windshield riddled with bullets -- that plowed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
People react in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
People react in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the center of French Riviera town of Nice, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the center of French Riviera town of Nice, after a vehicle drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. (Credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

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