Deadly truck attack in Nice unfolded at high speed

(Reuters) - It took less than 30 minutes, and possibly just 15, for a man to carry out an attack that killed at least 84 people, ten of them children, and injured 202 more in the French city of Nice.

French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The man drove a 19-tonne truck at high speed into crowds as a fireworks show to mark France’s Bastille Day national holiday came to an end on Thursday. He was shot dead after a run of some 2 km (1.5 miles) after he opened fire from his vehicle with a pistol, public prosecutor Francois Molins said.

Following is an outline of the sequence of events.

Times local (GMT +2, EST+6)

Before 2230: The attacker boards a large white truck not far from the wide Promenade de Anglais seaside boulevard and loads his bicycle into the vehicle. Molins confirms the attacker is Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, known to police for petty crime and violence but not suspected Islamist militancy. He is described as a 31-year-old Tunisian resident of Nice.

2200: A fireworks display attended by some 30,000 locals and tourists, including many children, begins near a tourist office on the Promenade des Anglais, a wide boulevard lined with palm trees and vast walking areas on the water’s edge that was closed to traffic for the occasion.

Approximately 2230: The fireworks show ends. Soon afterwards the attacker enters the Promenade des Anglais in the big, white refrigerator truck and drives down a stretch of about two km (1.5 miles) fronting the “vieille ville” old quarter where many of the victims were killed.

The driver starts swerving to hit people on the roadway and on the wide pavements that overlook the strand and sea. According to witness accounts, the truck accelerates as it hurtles into the crowded area near a tourist office.

Regional government chief Christian Estrosi says the truck was traveling at about 90 km per hour (56 miles per hour).

The area of most destruction appears, according to early reports, to be in an area of about 500 meters (550 yards) between the Negresco hotel and the tourist office.

Molins says bulk of killing is along a 1.9 km stretch from number 11 to 147 of the Promenade des Anglais, where the four lanes of roadway were closed to traffic in each direction and full of pedestrians.

2245-2300: The driver is shot dead by police 300 meters (yards) after opening fire with three shots from a 765 mm pistol.

Social networks are by this time starting to relay images of devastation and chaos.

2350: Sebastien Humbert, deputy prefect of the Alpes-Maritime region that includes Nice, says the early death toll estimate is around 30 and that the incident is for now being described as a “criminal attack”.

0400: President Hollande refers in a televised address to the “terrorist nature of this attack” which involved “the most extreme form of violence” and says the death toll at this stage is at least 77. He says emergency rule imposed in France after Islamist attacks killed 130 people in Paris last November will be extended for three months.

1510: After visiting victims in hospital in Nice, Hollande says the death toll has reached 84 and that about 50 are still fighting for their lives. The attacker was a delivery worker and father of a family, prosecutor Molins said. His ex-wife is also taken into custody.

Reporting by Brian Love; editing by Timothy Heritage, John Irish and Peter Graff