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Witness relives horror of gunshots, screams & blood at Florida nightclub shooting

Christopher Hansen has described scenes of panic, screams and hearing gunshots at the nightclub shooting.

Shooting erupted early on Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and scores of people died and many more injured. Picture: @OrlandoPolice.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - A witness has described hearing gunshots, screams and then seeing blood at the Pulse nightclub in Florida shooting, that left at least 50 people dead and 53 injured.

Christopher Hansen says he was sitting in the lounge of the nightclub when he heard gunshots.

"All I could hear was 'bang bang' and I thought it was part of a song. When I turned around there were people on the ground and blood was splattering and I didn't know if it was mine or someone else's."

Hansen says there was blood everywhere and he ducked down for cover.

"I dropped down and crawled out and when I looked up people were stepping on each other and I prayed to God to make it out."

The witness remembers that when he made it out of the club, there were people lying on the ground and adds that he took off some of his clothing, to help injured people.

The shooter was identified as Omar S. Mateen, a Florida resident who a senior FBI official said might have had leanings toward Islamic State militants. Officials called the rampage a "terrorism incident," but cautioned that the suspected Islamist connection required further investigation.

'HORRIFIC ACT'

The attacker was carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. He was also carrying an unidentified "device", Orlando Police Chief John Mina said earlier.

Javer Antonetti, 53, told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper he was near the back of the dance club when he heard gunfire. "There were so many (shots), at least 40 ... it was constant, like 'pow, pow, pow,'," he said.

Video footage showed police officers and civilians carrying some injured people away from the club and bending over others on the ground.

Dozens of police cruisers, ambulances and other emergency vehicles could be seen in the area.

Pulse, which was crowded for a Latin music night, describes itself on its website as more than "just another gay club."

One of the founders and owners, Barbara Poma, opened it more than a decade ago in an effort to keep alive the spirit of her brother, who died after battling HIV.

The choice of target was especially heart-wrenching for members of the US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida said in a statement.

"Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety," the group said. "We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger."

Orlando has a population of 270,930 and is the home of the famed Disney World amusement park and many other tourist attractions that attracted 62 million visitors in 2014.

It was the second deadly shooting at an Orlando night spot in as many nights. Late Friday, a man thought to be a deranged fan fatally shot singer Christina Grimmie, a former contestant on "The Voice", as she was signing autographs after a concert.