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Survivors tell dramatic stories of escaping chaos of Paris attacks

Some ran for their lives, others hung from windows to reach safety after attackers opened fire and set off explosives across Paris

PARIS -- The attacks in Paris Friday were coordinated, designed for maximum carnage. The targets of terrorist zeal were places that hosted its antithesis: celebrations of the joys of life.

The California-based band Eagles of Death Metal were playing in Bataclan, a Paris landmark whose stage has hosted the likes of Edith Piaf and Lou Reed, when three armed men burst in and began their killing spree.

Some escaped the bloody chaos by that most basic of instincts -- running for their lives.

The desperation and fear that had others literally hanging on by their fingernails to survive defies imagination.

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People who escaped from a hostage taking a mass shooting at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris hang from window ledges Friday, November 13, 2015.
CBS News

One man heard what he thought were firecrackers, then turned and saw two men firing automatic weapons.

"We all laid on the ground," he told French reporters later. "There was panic, screams. We ran and hid in a staircase. Someone was trying to get in. We managed to get onto the roof."

The apartment building next to Bataclan had windows at rooftop level. A man opened one and the escapees climbed in.

"We stayed the whole time at his place, in the dark," the survivor recounted. "We could hear explosions, gunshots, screams -- but we didn't know what was going on."

Across town, a capacity crowd watching the France-Germany soccer match had no idea what was going on either -- not even when an explosion was heard.

The French president was evacuated, but the game went on. It was a suicide bomber outside the stadium, and again, a miraculous escape.

"It just exploded in front of me," a man who was crossing the street later said. "Everything went to pieces."

And one of those pieces of shrapnel hit his phone.

"The phone saved me," he said.

That same soccer game saved Tunisian-born surgeon Bernabed Moncef. When gunmen attacked the restaurant area where he normally hangs out on Friday nights, he was watching the game on TV.

"I saw all these men running in all directions," Moncef told CBS News. "People just in front here, under the table, and people shoot ... and it's horrible. It's like war. What crazy?"

It's a question that has no answer - no more than why some were saved and others were not.

Some of the victims are still not identified so the social network equivalent of the 9/11 wall of the missing is Twitter, with the hash tag #SearchingParis.

There were green "I am safe" ticks but a man named Joe wrote, "My girlfriend was at the concert. I was supposed to get engaged with her. I don't know if I will see her again."

Many more were along the lines of one in English: "I am trying to locate my cousin Callum Hamish MacDonald."

The eternal hope that resilience and tenacity for life will triumph.