Singapore football fan thought Paris terrorist explosions were noise from stadium crowd
S'porean at stadium watching last Friday's France-Germany match thought blasts were noise from the crowd
Nobody reacted when the first terrorist bomb went off outside the Stade de France stadium last Friday
Like the other spectators, a Singaporean university student who was watching the friendly match between France and Germany had his eyes glued to the action on the pitch.
But the celebratory mood of France's 2-0 victory over Germany was short-lived.
By the end of the match, three suicide bombers had detonated their deadly load outside the stadium while other terrorists mercilessly gunned down numerous victims in the heart of Paris.
Recounting the tragic events to The New Paper on Tuesday, the Singaporean, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, said he and his three friends - another Singaporean and two Japanese students - were "twice lucky" that night.
Mr Lim, a 23-year-old business undergraduate studying at a university north of Paris, said it was miraculous the bombers were stopped at the stadium's entrance gates.
He said via text messaging: "If they had got in (to the stadium) and carried out their plans, it would have been a scene of chaos. (There could have been) panic among the 70,000-strong crowd and a stampede out of the stadium."
He also recounted how, just four hours before the match started at 9pm, he and his friends were in the vicinity of the Bataclan concert hall, where gunmen later slaughtered more than 80 concert-goers attending a performance by California band Eagles of Death Metal.
Mr Lim's group had been eating near Arts et Metiers Metro station, which is about 500m from the concert hall, the deadliest site of the terror attacks.
A total of 129 people were killed in the attacks.
Describing what happened later at the stadium, Mr Lim said the first "boom" came from the right side of the stadium, where his group was seated 20 minutes into the match.
This was followed by another explosion a few minutes later, sending tremors through the stadium.
At around 9.50pm, a third suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a nearby McDonald's restaurant.
Despite the tremors and blasts that sounded like hand grenades exploding, the crowd continued to watch the match and cheer the teams.
Mr Lim said: "At that time, (we) had no idea what that sound was. We thought it was noise generated from the crowd."
It was only in the 80th minute of the match that Mr Lim's group realised the severity of the situation after reading what was posted online in English news reports.
A Frenchman who sat next to the group had warned them to be careful when leaving the stadium.
SHOCK & FEAR
Mr Lim said: "When we heard what was going on outside the stadium and around Paris... (we were plagued) by feelings of disbelief, shock and fear."
As he does not speak French, it was difficult to ask the locals for information.
The group decided to take their chances by heading back to their apartment in Paris, a 40-minute Metro ride from the stadium.
Others gathered at the centre of the field after the match.
Mr Lim said: "Some exits were cordoned off, but no announcement was made regarding the attacks. There were brief moments of panic where people ran when others ran. It was very suspenseful."
He was concerned that an ongoing live police operation against the gunmen meant they would have to pass the "impact zone" to return to their apartment.
Nobody in the group spoke as they walked to the Metro station. Paranoid, they constantly looked over their shoulders to see if they were being followed by suspicious people.
In the background, sirens from emergency vehicles were blaring.
Mr Lim said: "We were just praying for our safety.
"It was a huge relief that the five stations around the area affected (by the attacks) were closed for the night. So the Metro went past those stops."
At his apartment, he continued to listen to English news reports as the death toll rose.
He later called his parents in Singapore to assure them he was safe.
His father told him to stay indoors and to catch the earliest train back to his university, a 90-minute train ride from Paris.
Mr Lim added: "(The next day), the streets were definitely quieter. But many people were still up and about.
"I was surprised by their (Parisians') bravery and drive for life to go on as normal and not to show that they were defeated."
He left Paris on Sunday morning.