Timeline: How the Paris attacks unfolded

The deady siege played out across France's capital in quick progression

Just before the chaos of the first bombs exploding and bullets fired, the people of Paris had been enjoying an unseasonably warm fall evening. At the Stade de France, the stadium of France, President Francois Hollande was watching the soccer match between France and Germany. It was Friday the 13th, and the bad luck would strike just outside the stadium. It was 9:20 p.m.

American Steve McCurry was sitting in the stands and taking photos on his phone.

"When I heard the explosion there were two of them I thought it was part of the show," he said. "It sounded like entertainment - like a half time show."

McCurry says the crowd of 80,000 heard the explosion, but had no idea a suicide bomber had just blown himself up.

Five minutes later, and just four miles away in a Paris neighborhood popular with young Parisians, a gunman opened fire outside a crowded bar and nearby restaurant.

At least 15 people were murdered and 10 critically wounded.

Back at the soccer game, another explosion -- another suicide bomber. President Hollande is evacuated. Two minutes later, another bar is hit and five more people are gunned down.

At La Belle Equipe bar, the carnage continues. Beginning at 9:36 p.m, for three long minutes, gunmen fire dozens of rounds over and over killing 19.

Among those killed was 23-year-old American college student Nohemi Gonzalez, an exchange student studying design from Cal State in California.

At 9:40 p.m., more panic as another suicide bomber detonates his explosive belt right near the Bataclan concert hall -- the site of what will become the greatest scene of mass murder.

Inside that hall, a capacity crowd of 1,500 mostly young people gathered to hear an American band, Eagles of Death Metal.

Masked gunmen armed with AK-47s begin firing into the crowd.

People desperately try to escape, jumping from the windows; an alleyway littered with bodies. The rock band manages to escape, but inside, reports that the gunmen are yelling "God is Great" in Arabic and talking about Syria and Iraq. Dozens of concert goers are now hostages.

"We drove past the theater in our taxi," a woman said. "It was terrifying. The cars were all jammed, and we were stopped. And we were told to get down in the car and sink as low as possible as we can into our seats. And there were men with guns -- military -- right next to our windows pointing to shoot."

It's now 9:53 p.m. -- 33 minutes since the attacks began, when a third suicide bomber detonates his belt outside the soccer stadium. The game finally ends with France winning 2 - 0. But by now, word had reached the crowd.

And the panic set in.

American witness tells what it was like at the stadium during Paris Attacks

"Suddenly there was a surge -- it was almost like a tsunami, like this wave was pushing us along," McCurry said. "I got nervous that I was going to get run over- and maybe killed, so I jumped behind a fence."

Afraid of what he would find on the streets, McCurry, like thousands of others, stayed in the stadium. It would be midnight before French authorities would storm the Bataclan concert hall; one gunman was killed by police, the other two died exploding their belts. Eighty-nine people died inside that hall and many were injured.

The attack was finally over.

Back at the stadium where it all began, the soccer fans felt safe to leave. France had just endured the worst terrorist attack in its history. As the fans walked out, they sang their country's national anthem.

Dramatic tales of survival in Paris attacks

Steve McCurry says what he witnessed Friday night reminded him of another tragedy -- an American one.

"It really took me back to 911. when there was just complete mayhem and bedlam," he said.

  • Peter Van Sant
    Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"