There’s so much misinformation around that we ask you to take this with a grain of salt. But that said, here’s the most reliable version of events we were able to find so far.
We’d like to say “we all know what happened yesterday in Paris”, but the truth is we all know very little. Because we cover football stadiums, we did our best to find out as much as possible about yesterday’s events in Saint Denis.
We followed a couple hundred articles, eye-witness reports and have two colleagues who were at the France-Germany friendly last night. But even with that in mind we urge everyone who knows more or finds a mistake to contact us. We will update the story should the version of events change. [last update: Nov 16, 05:50]
Bombings beside the stadium
Contrary to what some media outlets claimed, there was no explosion at Stade de France itself. Nor were there fans killed. What was confirmed so far is that there were three explosions, of which two were suicide bombings and one most likely a detonation of materials.
The three attacks happened with a significant difference in timing. First one can be heard in the 21st minute of the France-Germany game. As we were informed by a witness inside, two bursts were clearly heard in the first half, the third one less audible and before the second half, most likely the most distant one. Exact times of explosions are as follows: 21:20, 21:30, 21:51.
All three explosions happened along the eastern perimeter fencing of Stade de France. Contrary to one story by the Wall Street Journal, none of the attackers had tickets, but it's now confirmed two attempted to enter the stadium a quarter before first of them decided to detonate himself (21:05).
Seeing they wouldn't enter the stadium, the two most likely decided to attack cafes nearby. First explosion happened near Gate D, beside the cafe Events. The suicide bomber killed one person there.
Second explosion was, as reported earlier, located in north-eastern corner of the stadium plaza, by the Quix restaurant. No-one was killed there, of course aside of the bomber himself. Finally, third explosion happened close to a McDonald's further from the stadium itself.
While some reports suggested up to 4 death and 57 injuries, most reliable version we have at this point is 1 casualty and 36 people wounded, 15 seriously.
Location of the attacks challenges a hypothesis that President Francois Hollande was targeted, because he was located on the western side and heavily guarded. More likely scenario is interrupting the game and, should it be aborted and fans evacuated, killing more people as they spill into the streets. Media coverage of this high-profile event was also surely a factor.
Inside the venue
Thankfully the people were kept unaware for over an hour. Or at least that’s how the organisers intended it to be. The first explosion caused some amusement in the stands as fans largely considered it to be either a failed firework, loud banger or a different event, surely not an act of terror.
When first mobiles began ringing and people began following social media, some of them began attempting to leave. According to what we know, the stadium was already sealed off in fears of further attempts to detonate explosives. Fans were forced to stay inside as it was considered Stade de France was safest for them at that time.
The game went uninterrupted until the end, but in late minutes anxiety among people was high. There are reports of panic, arguments and high congestion in the pedestrian areas. Risk of stampeding was mentioned, but fans were allowed to enter the field in an attempt to ease the situation.
Later the north-western gates were opened (not sure if only those though) and fans given initial instructions of where to go. Those willing to wait longer were allowed to stay inside the ground. Eventually Stade de France was closed for the weekend and any items left by fans may be picked up on Monday. The German national team stayed for the night and left earlier today. Roads around the stadium were also temporarily sealed off, but opened today.