'Hell:' Famous Paris venue becomes scene of terror bloodbath

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Paris Attacks: Eyewitness Describes Chaos of Bataclan Concert Shooting

PARIS (AP) -- There was a moment -- just a moment -- when the concert hall was eerily quiet. The rock band had stopped playing, and people had dived to the floor after realizing the sudden explosions hadn't been part of the show. Everything was silent.

Then the attackers started again, strafing the crowd with automatic gunfire. There were screams of terror, the staccato of Kalashnikovs and cries of the wounded, followed by a standoff with police and the explosions of suicide bombs.

SEE ALSO: Woman shares terrifying account of pretending to be dead during Paris attacks

By the time the ordeal was over at one of Paris' celebrated entertainment venues, 89 people were dead and many more were wounded, entangled bodies in pools of blood.

A French survivor summed it up with one word: "Hell."

It was a sell-out crowd at the Bataclan on Friday for the 9 p.m. concert by an American group, the Eagles of Death Metal. Less than an hour after the band began its set, a series of bangs rang out. Many thought it was firecrackers or pyrotechnics.

"Everyone thought it was part of the show, but then I saw the lead singer's face drop before he ran off stage, and the lights came on," university student Hanna Corbett, 21, told the Nottingham Post newspaper of Britain.

"We all just dropped to the floor. When the music stopped, there was this haunting silence in between gunfire and I could see blood on the floor."

The Bataclan already had a storied history, opening its doors on Paris' Right Bank in 1865. French crooner Maurice Chevalier of "Gigi" fame enjoyed some of his earliest successes there, before it was converted into a movie theater, devastated by fire and resurrected as a concert hall again in the mid-1980s.

Friday's headliner was a California band whose music is far less harsh than its name, described by a co-founder as a mix of bluegrass slide guitar, stripper drum beats and Canned Heat-style vocals.

See photos of the aftermath in Paris:

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'Hell:' Famous Paris venue becomes scene of terror bloodbath
A victim under a blanket lays dead outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented attacks around Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said, announcing that he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
People run after hearing what is believed to be explosions or gun shots near Place de la Republique square in Paris on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in several shootings and explosions in Paris today, police said. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French President Francois Hollande arrives to visit the site of the the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins says the death toll in attacks at six sites around the French capital could exceed 120. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Victims leave after a shooting, near the Bataclan theater in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Investigating police officers inspect the lifeless body of a victim of a shooting attack outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Victims lay on the pavement in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Police officials in France on Friday reported a shootout in a Paris restaurant and an explosion in a bar near a Paris stadium. It was unclear if the events were linked. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Victims walk away outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Supporters invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium at the end of the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Spectators embrace each other as they stand on the playing field of the Stade de France stadium at the end of a friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds made their way to the pitch after explosions were heard nearby. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Spectators gather on the pitch of the Stade de France stadium following the friendly football match between France and Germany in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 13, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. At least 18 people were killed, with at least 15 people killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only around 200 metres from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked by jihadists in January. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers help a woman after a shooting, outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A victim walks outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: French officials and medics work near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district after a drive-by shooting killing 11 people, November 14, 2015, Paris, France. At least 142 people were killed deadly shootings and explosions took place in several neighbourhoods of Paris. 1,500 troops deployed in French capital says Elysse. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A victim is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Victims lay on the pavement in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Two police officials say at least 11 people have been killed in shootouts and other violence around Paris. Police have reported shootouts in at least two restaurants in Paris. At least two explosions have been heard near the Stade de France stadium, and French media is reporting of a hostage-taking in the capital. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Two men evacuate the Place de la Republique square in Paris as a police officer looks on, after several shootings on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in several shootings and explosions in Paris today, police said. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13: Police survey the area of Boulevard Baumarchais after an attack in the French capital on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 18 people were killed in a series of gun attacks across Paris, as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
Rescuers rush to the scene following an attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed as multiple shootings and explosions hit Paris, police said. Police also said there was an ongoing hostage crisis in the Bataclan a concert hall in the French capital. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A person is being evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A Victim of a shooting attack is treated on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. (Anne Sophie Chaisemartin via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Bell Equipe restaurant in Paris Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. (Anne Sophie Chaisemartin via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
People rest on a bench after being evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. A series of attacks targeting young concert-goers, soccer fans and Parisians enjoying a Friday night out at popular nightspots killed over 100 people in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: French officials and medics work near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district after a drive-by shooting killing 11 people, November 14, 2015, Paris, France. At least 142 people were killed deadly shootings and explosions took place in several neighbourhoods of Paris. 1,500 troops deployed in French capital says Elysse. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A firefighter attend to an injured person lying on a stretcher near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. At least 39 people were killed in an 'unprecedented' series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People are evacuated by bus, near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. More than 100 people were killed in a mass hostage-taking at a Paris concert hall on November 13 and many more were feared dead in a series of bombings and shootings, as France declared a national state of emergency. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
People are comforted after being evacuated from the Bataclan theater after a shooting in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Investigating police officers work outside the Stade de France stadium after an explosion and after international friendly soccer match France against Germany, in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about attacks in Paris from the briefing room of the White House, on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Washington. Obama is calling the attacks on Paris an "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians" and vows to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: U.S. President Barack Obama departs the White House briefing room after delivering remarks on the recent violence taking place in Paris, France November 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. Gunfire and explosions erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Football fans leave the Stade de France stadium following the friendly football match between France and Germany in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 13, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. At least 18 people were killed, with at least 15 people killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only around 200 metres from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked by jihadists in January. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer fans leave the Stade de France stadium after an international friendly soccer match in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. An explosion occurred outside the stadium. Several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented attacks around Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said, announcing that he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French supporters invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium at the end of the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Soccer fans wait on the fitch of the Stade de France stadium after an international friendly soccer match in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. An explosion occurred outside the stadium. Several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented attacks around Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said, announcing that he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
supporters run in panic on the pitch during the International friendly match between France and Germany on November 13, 2015 at the Stade France in Paris, France.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
Police are seen outside a cafe-restaurant in 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed as multiple shootings and explosions hit Paris, police said. Police also said there was an ongoing hostage crisis in the Bataclan a concert hall in the French capital. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
RETRANSMISSION FOR ALTERNATIVE CROP - Emergency services attewnd the scene as victims lay on the pavement outside a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Police officials in France on Friday report multiple terror incidents, leaving many dead. It was unclear at this stage if the events are linked. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A policeman stands behind a cordon blocking the street near the site of an attack in a restaurant in Paris on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in multiple attacks in Paris Friday, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium and another at a concert venue. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A victim lies on the ground covered by a white sheet (Rear L) as special police work at the attack scene rue Bichat, in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. More than 100 people were killed in a mass hostage-taking at a Paris concert hall late on November 13 and many more were feared dead in a series of bombings and shootings, as France declared a national state of emergency. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters and rescuers evacuate injured people near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. At least 39 people were killed in an 'unprecedented' series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People are evacuated following an attack at the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in multiple attacks in Paris Friday, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic experts inspect the site of an attack outside the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, early on November 14, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. A number of people were killed and others injured in a series of gun attacks across Paris, as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Investigating police officers work outside the Stade de France stadium after an international friendly soccer match France against Germany, in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Several dozen people were killed in attacks around Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said, announcing that he was closing the countryâs borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Medics stand by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Police officials in France on Friday reported a shootout in a Paris restaurant and an explosion in a bar near a Paris stadium. It was unclear if the events were linked. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French President Francois Hollande is seen through the glass door after a security meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
French President Francois Hollande speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday which left more than 120 people dead. Hollande on Saturday blamed the Islamic State group for the attacks in Paris that left at least 128 dead, calling them an "act of war". (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)
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As the Eagles of Death Metal performed, at about 9:40 p.m., a black Volkswagen Polo drew up and parked outside the Bataclan, French officials said.

Three occupants emerged from the vehicle, armed with automatic weapons and wearing belts packed with extremely volatile explosives. They entered the club apparently unnoticed amid the high-decibel music, and opened fire at the crowd.

Julien Pearce, a journalist at Europe 1 radio, also thought the pop-pop noises were a harmless part of the act.

"Then I looked back and saw the assailants ... who were coming toward us with assault rifles and were randomly firing into the crowd," he said on Europe 1. "We immediately got on the ground to protect ourselves, to be less exposed."

The Bataclan had become one of the targets of the deadliest violence to hit the French capital since World War II.

That same evening outside the France-Germany soccer match in Paris' northern suburbs, a pair of suicide bombers had already detonated their explosives, and another would blow himself up on Boulevard Voltaire, a thoroughfare in eastern Paris near the Bataclan.

The coordinated attack included volleys of Kalashnikov fire at Parisians and others who thronged bars and restaurants on an unseasonably balmy November night.

In all, at least 129 people were killed and 350 injured. France's leaders have said their country is now at war.

In claiming responsibility for the attacks, the Islamic State group said the Bataclan had expressly been targeted for its "hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice."

READ MORE: France launches air strikes in Syria; Paris investigation widens

The gunmen in the concert hall were "were very calm, very methodical, very slow," John Leader, 46, told Australia Broadcasting Corp. after escaping with his 12-year-old son. Two of the men worked together, one aiming and shooting while the other covered him.

"They weren't in there shooting like in an American movie," Leader said. "It was finding a target and then shooting, and then finding the next target and then shooting."

After several minutes of lying still on the Bataclan's floor, Pearce and people around him decided to move as the gunmen paused to reload.

"We needed to get out of this hell, to try something, at least," he said. "Bullets started to fly again in our direction so we ran, crawled and got into a tiny dark room next to the stage."

"There was no exit, so we were just in another trap, less exposed, but still a trap," he said.

Other people escaped through the Bataclan's side doors, some dragging bodies with them. One woman clung to a second-story window, trying to get out of the line of fire.

Among those attempting to flee was the sister of French football striker Antoine Griezmann, who was playing in the game going on against Germany.

Mariesha Payne and Christine Tudhope, both from Scotland, hid in a cellar at the Bataclan for three hours. They had come to Paris to celebrate Tudhope's 35th birthday and were standing near the stage when the shooting started.

Speaking to Sky News after they returned to Edinburgh airport, Payne, 33, said she saw bullets hit the stage.

"A second round went off, most people ducked, but I just said, 'Run, just get out of here,'" she said.

"In the confusion, if we had gone left we would have instantly been out onto the street and probably the first people out of the building, but, just confused, we ran right, and ended up being in a room that we couldn't get out of," Payne said.

"A few seconds later the door burst open and we just thought, 'They're coming. We are going to die.'"

But it was two other concert goers, she said. "We managed to barricade ourselves in, turn the lights out and we were then trapped there for the next three hours just having to listen to what was happening."

In a separate interview, Payne told a Scottish newspaper she had been afraid she would never see her two children again.

"I cannot believe we got out alive. While we were hiding, there was a pause in the shots for about 20 minutes but there was a lot of screaming," she told The Daily Record.

Pearce, the radio journalist, said he was able to peer discreetly out of his hiding place and see one of the assailants.

"He seemed very young, that's what struck me, his childish face, very determined, cold, calm, frightening," he said.

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: Video from inside the Bataclan concert hall appears to show the moment gunfire erupted

New Video Appears to Show Attack

In the hall where the radio journalist and the others had been enjoying the show only moments before, he said, "I saw dozens and dozens of entangled, bullet-riddled bodies in a pool of blood."

Pearce finally reached the emergency exit, where he helped a wounded young woman run to safety.

Corbett said she and Jack Konda, 21, another student from Nottingham University, escaped by crawling over "a pile of people" --they weren't certain whether they were dead or alive -- near the fire exit.

Michael O'Connor, another Briton who was attending the concert with his girlfriend, spoke to the BBC of utter chaos with "people falling all over the place, people screaming, people just clawing and running and pushing to get away."

O'Connor described the scene as a "slaughterhouse," and said he lay on top of his girlfriend to try to protect her.

"There were wounded, it was really strange because they looked terribly wounded and they were obviously conscious but they weren't crying out, they were obviously trying to stay quiet so that they didn't attract more gunfire," he said.

"I thought I was going to die," O'Connor said.

The assailants took captive the people they hadn't killed or who hadn't managed to escape. In a brief communication during a two-hour standoff with the heavily armed French security forces massed outside, the hostage-takers invoked Syria and Iraq.

One of the three was a Frenchman, a week shy of his 30th birthday, convicted eight times between 2004 and 2010 for minor crimes and flagged for ties to Islamic radicals.

At around 12:20 a.m., French forces stormed the Bataclan. They shot one assailant, whose suicide bomb exploded, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference.

The other attackers managed to detonate the explosives they were wearing. All three were killed, the prosecutor said.

Molins, without providing an exact figure, said "very many" people had been injured in the attack at the concert hall. Dr. Philippe Juvin, an emergency room physician at the Georges Pompidou hospital, said he has never had to care for so many victims at once.

"The majority were gunshot wounds inflicted with weapons of war, of high caliber, in the thorax, the abdomen, their legs and arms," Juvin said. "Also, the psychological trauma. The people that witness these kinds of events are deeply affected, even if some may not be physically injured, it hurts their soul."

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