14 Nov 2015

Kiwis in Paris: People 'running for their lives'

9:49 pm on 14 November 2015

New Zealanders in Paris have described the terror which gripped people as news of today's deadly attacks spread.

A victim lies on the ground covered by a white sheet outside a cafe, in central Paris

A victim lies on the ground covered by a white sheet outside a cafe, in central Paris Photo: AFP

At least 120 people are reported to have been killed after a series of shootings and bombings across the French capital.

Ruby Black, 24, said she saw people running for their lives out of the Gare du Nord station.

In Paris for the weekend with her family, Ms Black said she was catching the metro in to the city to meet her mother when people on the train started looking at their phones and panicking.

She said when she got off the train people were running everywhere.

"It was just really eerie, because I've never been in a situation before where you actually see people running for their lives, people not even noticing you when they run past because of the terror on their face.

"People were running up the escalators that were going down."

She said she saw a man cleaning the street jump out of his vehicle and start sprinting.

Charlotte Pleasants, 22, lives in Paris and was out for a drink with friends when the sirens started and the bars emptied onto the streets.

"It was like everything was out and at the same time we had no idea what was going on, all I knew was that maybe there was a shooting and then everyone was leaving."

She was staying put at a friend's house until it was safe.

"Everyone is going home, everyone is on their phone, everyone is out of restaurants and bars and walking or biking, the taxi cars are all red because they're all full."

Parisians in New Zealand try to reach loved ones

Achille Segard, 26, grew up in Paris but now lives in Wellington and said waiting to find out if his family and friends were safe was tormenting.

He said he had heard back from most of them, but that he will be anguished until he knows about all of them.

"I still have so many unanswered emails and they will be haunting me until I get the answers.

"I'm just at home, walking in circles in the living room really," he said.

Mr Segard said his family described the streets ouside as a mess.

"I hardly see myself even going back home, do I want to go to a city - my hometown - to a city where the ghosts of such terrible events happened?" he said.

NZ stands with France

The Prime Minister has condemned the attacks and expressed condolences to the people and government of France.

John Key says he feels sick to the stomach over what has happened.

He was also worried about his daughter Stephanie, who lives in Paris, but says she is safe.

"From a purely personal level obviously you know I can get a sense of what those who have loved ones and family members in Paris and in France are going through, you just feel that distance and that you know that sort of emptiness when you have such a great gap with someone that you love."

John Key says Stephanie was at a shopping mall when the attacks took place.

He says New Zealand stands with France in the global fight against terrorism.

Mr Key says the Government is still trying to find out if any New Zealanders have been caught up in the attacks.

Are you a New Zealander in the area? Do you have any information you can share? email news@radionz.co.nz

The New Zealand Embassy in Paris said it was trying to get information about the nationalities of victims and casualties from the attacks and was liaising with local authorities.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said there were 279 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in France.

Concerned about a family member in France?

If you have concerns about a New Zealand family member in Paris, please try and make direct contact with them in the first instance. If you have ongoing concerns, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade:

Tel: 04 439 8000 (if calling from within New Zealand)

Tel: +64 4 439 8000 (if calling from outside New Zealand)