Couple caught in ‘terrifying’ stampede amid World Cup game
PUBLISHED: 10:39 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 16:18 10 August 2020
A Suffolk couple have spoken of how they were caught up in a “terrifying” stampede which broke out in Nice amid France’s semi-final win in the World Cup.
Andrew Powles, 36, and his wife Becky, 32, from Bury St Edmunds, were watching the game on the outskirts of the old town square when crowds panicked after revellers let off firecrackers.
The couple flew out to Nice last Wednesday for a week’s relaxing holiday and did not even intend to watch the semi-final tie between France and Belgium when they became caught up in the action.
Mr Powles, a lecturer at West Suffolk College, said: “Hundreds of people started stampeding towards us pushing over tables and breaking glasses.
“It was a pretty scary experience,” he added. “We were just watching through the window of a bar. As we stood there with a minute left all of a sudden everyone was piling towards us – we could hear the glass flying.
“As I ran I tripped over a bollard and fell on the floor. People were sort of climbing on the top of each other – I remember looking up and there was on other guy who did push over the top of me.
“I have never felt like it before. I don’t like to think the worst but all you can think of is, is someone going to shoot at you? In that situation people say you should do this or do that, but at the time you just think ‘get out of here’.”
Mr Powles, who returned to Suffolk today, said it was one of the most “terrifying” moments the couple had experienced.
Fleeing the stampede, the pair headed down a couple of side streets in the direction of their hotel, where Mr Powles said they started to feel a bit safer.
“The police officers said there was nothing to worry about,” he said.
The couple saw one lady in the hotel with her knee bandanged up and witnessed a family hugging each other with relief.
“We didn’t actually know what had happened until this morning,” he added.
Some 27 football fans are reported to have been injured in the stampede, which broke out moments before the final whistle was blown in France’s 1-0 win against Belgium.
While he said the incident had not put him off the beautiful game, Mr Powles has opted to watch England’s semi-final match from home tonight.
“We are definitely going to go back [to Nice],” he added. “But we’d probably think twice about going to an occasion like that.”
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