Sunday, August 07, 2016

Nice: what happened at Point Gambetta?

"Point Gambetta" is the intersection of the Promenade des Anglais with the Boulevard Gambetta, about 600 meters west of the final position of the truck. Exactly here the street was blocked by barriers and car traffic was diverted. It was the beginning of the "pedestrianized" zone of the Promenade. More than three weeks after the attack, the details of the truck's path are still not clear and in part contradictory. Point Gambetta is one of these problematic details.

According to Le Monde, the street was blocked by the municipal police, with two policemen, one car, metal barriers and plastic elements. Libération published a photo taken minutes before the attack, apparently during the fireworks (people are looking into the sky). There are metal barriers in the foreground blocking the way on the street. The incoming traffic is diverted to the left.

Libération writes:
Au moment où Lahouaiej Bouhlel contourne le barrage de Gambetta en montant sur le trottoir, poursuivant ainsi son carnage, les premiers hommes de la police nationale sont placés au cœur de la zone piétonne, à 370 mètres plus à l’est, près de l’hôtel Westminster.
 "contourne le barrage de Gambetta en montant sur le trottoir" implicates that the truck was driving on the street when he approached Point Gambetta and made a swerve to the right there to continue his ride on the trottoir. Unlike the street, the trottoir was not blocked by any obstacle. Sandra Bertin has confirmed this version to the Journal du Dimanche: "Il contourne le barrage de la police municipale." Bypass, no breakthrough.

Stunningly in an official timeline published by Frédéric Ploquin in Marianne and accredited to - but not confirmed by - Bertin, the swerve isn't mentioned and the truck was driving on the trottoir already when it reached Point Gambetta:
Vingt-deux heures trente-quatre minutes et trente secondes : visualisons que le véhicule circule encore plus vite, toujours dans la même direction ; sa vitesse pourrait être estimée à environ 90km/h. Toujours sur le trottoir de la Chaussée Sud, le camion écrase et percute de très nombreuses victimes, tout en continuant sa course folle.
Vingt-deux heures trente-quatre minutes et trente-six secondes : visualisons que le véhicule se dirige alors vers la chaussée qui est emplie de piétons, en faisant de nouveau une embardée. Ce décroché survient à hauteur de l’intersection Promenade des Anglais / Rue CRONSTADT---
Rue Cronstadt is 100 meters east of Point Gambetta. With a speed of 90 km/h, the truck must have passed Gambetta at 22:34:32, driving on the trottoir the whole time ("toujours"). This blatant contradiction has obviously not escaped Le Monde who expresses confusion about the timeline.

There are also a couple of photos taken at Point Gambetta after the attack - the title photo is one of them, showing the trottoir between Boulevard Gambetta and the Hi Beach club. These pictures are suitable to fuel the confusion because they show some apparently dead victims on the trottoir, covered by blue cloths. They seem to confirm that the truck had mowed down people on the trottoir when he approached Point Gambetta, thus confirming the timeline in Marianne and contradicting Libération, Le Monde, and Sandra Bertin.

A clarification is urgently needed.