#nyt–” Terror Through the Eyes of Innocents: The Children in Nice”

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A relative paid tribute on Saturday to 4½-year-old Yanis Coviaux, who was killed in the truck attack along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. CreditDmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

NICE, France — It was the first and last fireworks show in this seaside city that 4½-year-old Yanis Coviaux ever saw. He died in the carnage Thursday night. So did Brodie Copeland, 11, who was visiting from the United States.

Haroun El Kamel, 12, survived but might never look at fireworks the same way.

Then there was Laura Borla, 14, who came to see the fireworks with her twin sister and their mother but was separated from them in the chaos. After days of searching frantically for her, Laura’s family learned on Sunday morning that she was dead.

“We miss you already; we will love you always,” her 19-year-old sister, Lucie, said in a Facebook post.

The driver who plowed his truck into crowds at the conclusion of the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice killed at least 84 people and injured hundreds more. The trauma was exacerbated by the presence of a large number of children, whose deaths, injuries and psychological scars gave this attack — like the one in March that killed many children at a park in Pakistan, or the recent slaughter of families celebrating the end of Ramadan in Baghdad — an especially brutal feel and underscored its indiscriminate cruelty.

At least 10 children were killed Thursday night, and at least 35 were treated for injuries at hospitals in Nice. Others were separated from their parents in the chaos, and some no doubt saw and heard things they might carry with them for a long time.

No one who was visiting the waterfront that night could have imagined such a horrific ending. Going to the fireworks on July 14 is an annual family ritual in Nice, a time for picnics on the beach — and, when the beach is too full, for spreading tablecloths on the meridian of the waterfront road known for more than 150 years as the Promenade des Anglais. From there, people have a fine view of the sea and the extravagant fireworks display.

“You have to bring your children because if you don’t, you will pay for it all year — all their friends are there,” said Raja El Kamel, 43, Haroun’s mother, who was with him and a close friend from Sweden and her two children to watch the festivities.

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In a city that enjoys a party, the July 14 fireworks are especially beloved because the entire community joins in: Christian and Muslim, religious and secular, but French above all. The presence of large numbers of tourists gives the evening even more of a festive feel.

For 4½-year-old Yanis and his parents, Mickael and Samira Coviaux, the evening was a first. The parents, both truck drivers, live in Grenoble, and this was their first time seeing the July 14 fireworks on the Mediterranean as a family, said Yanis’s aunt Anaïs Coviaux, a law student in Paris, who came to support her brother and sister-in-law after Yanis was killed.

“The children were playing among themselves, and they had their back to the road,” she said. “They did not hear the truck until just one second before it hit. It went up on the sidewalk; it struck Yanis and the mother of one of the other children with them.” The mother also died.

There was no first aid nearby. Finally, Mr. Coviaux picked up his little boy and began walking with him until they found a person with a car who agreed to take them to the hospital. When they passed some firefighters, they stopped and asked them to try to revive him. But the child was dead.

“He was my parents’ only grandson, the only grandson in the family,” Anaïs Coviaux said softly. She explained that her brother and his wife were too distraught to speak. “Yanis loved people,” she said. “He especially liked Sundays when all the family was gathered, and he would say, ‘Mamie and Papi, we are going to have a party.’”

Later, Mr. Coviaux said in an email that “every single person that Yanis met in his short life fell in love with him.”

The entire family gathered on the promenade Saturday to view the last sights he had seen.

“It was important for us to come to the place he died to pay him a tribute,” Anaïs Coviaux said, “because we could not bear to say goodbye to him. We left a picture of him and flowers.”

Identifying children and examining them has been difficult because of the level of trauma and because some were brought to the hospital without relatives, said Sylvie Serret, a child psychiatrist at the Lenval Foundation hospital, which treated at least 30 injured children on Thursday night.

“A lot of the children coming in were in a state of shock; they were not speaking, for instance,” she said.

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A memorial on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on Saturday. CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

An emergency room nurse at Pasteur Hospital, Mejdi Chemakhi, cared for several children, including a boy and a girl who had been brought in without their parents. The boy was 4, Mr. Chemakhi said, and the girl was 6.

The boy, Mr. Chemakhi recounted, spoke in a flat tone, apparently in shock.

“My mummy is dead, but my daddy is still alive,” he recalled the boy saying over and over. The boy, expressionless, finally said, “I am tired, I need to sleep, I have no clothes,” Mr. Chemakhi recalled.

“So I took him in my arms and tried to console him,” he said. “You don’t really know what else to do in those situations. It is really important to make them feel safe.”

Later that night, a wounded man was brought to the hospital and told Mr. Chemakhi that he had lost his wife and could not find his children, a boy and a girl. Mr. Chemakhi realized the three belonged together and helped reunite them.

On the Promenade des Anglais on Saturday, there were memorials of flowers and notes, sometimes every few feet, to mark where people had lost their lives. Nathalie Russo, 30, a Muslim who wears a hijab, came with her mother to retrace the steps she and her children, 5-year-old Mayssa and 2-year-old Emine, took on Thursday night.

“My daughter is telling me that she does not want to see fireworks again,” Ms. Russo said, adding, “She kept asking me, ‘How did the bad people get from Paris to Nice?’”

“She thought the man who did this was one of those who attacked the Bataclan,” she said, “and he had come here to do the same thing.”

The Bataclan is the Paris concert hall where 90 people were shot dead by three Islamic State operatives on Nov. 13, when a total of 130 people werekilled in and around Paris by terrorists.

Some mothers and fathers who had not been near the fireworks brought their children to see the memorials on Saturday as a way of expressing unity with the community and defiance toward the terrorists.

Nour Hamila, a Nice native who has converted to Islam, made a point of bringing her three children, who are 8, 5 and 3. “I told them not to be afraid because that’s what the terrorists want; we have to support each other,” she said as her 5-year-old son, Mohamed, placed flowers on one of the memorials.

It is harder for those children who witnessed the killings.

For Ms. Kamel’s 12-year-old son, Haroun, the moment is etched in his mind.

“We saw it from far away, a white truck in this black night,” she said. She recalled thinking that the truck did not belong there because the street was closed to traffic.

Her son and her friend’s 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter were playing and laughing. Then the driver accelerated and began to veer from one side of the road to the other, “plowing into people,” she said.

Somehow she pushed herself and her son onto the sidewalk as the truck neared. Then it passed, and all she remembers was her son saying, “Mama, Mama, you must come to help the people.”

She looked at the road and recognized a neighbor who was kneeling next to her husband, wailing his name. Ms. Kamel told her son to go with her friend and the other children.

Everything was silent. “There was just this terrible wind,” she said.

“To the left you saw bodies; you looked right and saw bodies; there were strollers, and people trying to save other people.”

After trying to comfort her neighbor, she looked for her son, but by then the crowds were running, and it was chaos. Hours later, when she found him and her friend, her son said, “Mama, did you manage to save the man?”

Ms. Kamel responded that the emergency services had come for him.

“You know, children don’t have a global vision,” she said. “He saw all those corpses, but for him, the one at his feet was supposed to be saved.”

About jonwadier

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