“A big boom in the chest”
Like every Wednesday, Aline M. had accompanied her three grandchildren aged 9, 7 and 5 to their piano lessons at the Schola Cantorum, the private music, drama and dance establishment located at 269 , rue Saint-Jacques, adjacent to the Paris American Academy. When the explosion sounded, at 4:55 p.m., she was in the tree-lined courtyard in front of the Schola, just before the sidewalk. She says that between the explosion and the evacuation “everything happened in about twenty minutes”.
“The children had been out of their lesson for about twenty minutes and I was giving them a snack in the middle of this courtyard, telling myself that with its trees, it was really magnificent, when a huge explosion sounded. I thought a plane had just crashed. I felt a shock in the lungs. The Schola building, which is very old, with particularly thick walls, literally wobbled, and a huge piece of gl ped horizontally and diagonally in the courtyard, and the windows broke, spilling debris everywhere.
We were about ten in all in the yard but everyone remained rather calm, as if stunned. A few children started crying but they were quickly calmed down and reured. A teacher injured in the hand and bleeding came out of the building and took it upon himself not to panic anyone. My granddaughters’ piano teacher also went out with her next student and just gave me a smile as if to say she was glad we were safe. You could see a huge plume of black smoke, all the panes were broken. We approached the north courtyard wall, the farthest from the fire.
I wanted to go out to take the kids home and because I hadn’t heard from my daughter-in-law who was to pick up her 5-year-old daughter and who could have been right in front of the affected building at the time of the blast. A manager from the Schola said to me: “You don’t think about it, it’s too dangerous, we’re going to come and evacuate us.” Fortunately, my daughter-in-law was just late. She’s fine, I managed to get her on the phone. The firefighters and the police arrived very quickly, in less than a quarter of an hour, and got us out on the rue Saint-Jacques, in the direction of the descent towards the Seine. Ice debris was still falling, one fell right in front of my 9 year old grandson. I got the children to talk, who told me they felt “a big boom in their chests”. »