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Last words, last hopes, lasting fears: the endless night of the Bataclan families

·2 min read

On Friday, at the special criminal court where 20 men are being tried on suspicion of involvement in the November 2015 Paris massacres of 130 people, the families of some of the 90 Bataclan victims attempted to describe their on-going nightmare of grief, confusion and incomprehension.

There were final phone conversations, between lovers, between fathers and daughters, while the killers continued their terrible task.

One of Friday's witness was still at work when her boyfriend rang. He was at the Bataclan. She could hear explosions. Most importantly, she could hear his voice.

"He said there had been an attack, that he was wounded, that he was dying, and that he loved me."

Another girl rang her father to make sure he was safe. He said "I can't talk now. I'm injured but alive. I love you." He'd been shot four times, and died shortly afterwards, in the care of an ambulance crew.

Others described the emotional turmoil of the hours following the attacks.

In the confusion, as the emergency services struggled to deal with the worst loss of life in France in peacetime, families were given contradictory information, were repeatedly asked to describe their missing loved ones.

People arrived at hospitals, some having driven through the night, hoping to find their loved ones injured but alive.

Many were met by exhausted surgeons and the grim faces of failure.

And then, when all hope was gone, and the cold formalities of the Medical-Legal Institute had been completed, there were young children to be faced. The question "where's Daddy?" can not be ignored indefinitely.

"For about three years, my children were afraid to go to bed," said a widowed mother. "The night was a dangerous time, when your father could disappear, for ever.

"At an age when you should be scared of wolves in bedtime stories, they were afraid of something incomprehensible which had stolen their future."

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