A large truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing at least 84 people and sending people fleeing into the sea as it bore down for more than a mile along the Riviera city's famed waterfront promenade.
Some tried to escape into the water, a lawmaker for the region that includes Nice said Friday, giving new details of the horrifying last minutes of the attack.
The witness said the driver accelerated as he was mowing people down.
"People went down like ninepins", Jacques, a restaurant owner on the seafront Promenade des Anglais, told France Info.
US President Barack Obama condemned "what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack", although no group had yet claimed responsibility. He said 20 wounded people are in critical condition. Many others were less seriously hurt.
Hollande said it was not immediately clear whether the driver had accomplices. There was no sign of any other attack. "There's no denying the terrorist nature of this attack of yet again the most extreme form of violence".
Major events in France have been guarded by troops and armed police since the Islamic State attacks past year, but it appeared to have taken many minutes to halt the progress of the truck as it tore along pavements and a pedestrian zone.
Nearly exactly eight months ago, attackers linked to ISIL killed 130 people in Paris.
One woman circulated photos of her best friend-the two were originally planning on attending the fireworks together, but her friend ended up going with her mother instead. "We ran into a hotel and hid in the toilets with lots of people".
He is also said to have fired into the crowd with a handgun as he drove along, news agency AFP reports.
― Reuters picPETALING JAYA, July 15 ― The Malaysian Students Association in France (MASAFrance) has confirmed that no local students have been harmed by the deadly terror attack in Nice.
French television channel BFM TV said the local prefecture in Nice was treating the incident as an attack and was asking people to stay at home.
"My condolences are with the grief-stricken French nation", the President said.
President Hollande said in a televised address that he will extend France's state of emergency, due to expire July 26, for three months in response to the attack. "I was proud to stand alongside French leaders earlier today at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, and the United States will continue to stand firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy". Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said extra medical-legal police were being sent to Nice to speed the identification process so bodies can be returned to families. Officials said Hollande would chair a meeting of security chiefs at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT).