At least 19 people are dead and 59 more injured after a Muslim suicide bomber targeted children leaving a packed pop concert at Manchester Arena last night in Britain’s worst terror attack since 7/7.
Witnesses told of nuts and bolts tearing into young gig-goers when the blast was detonated in the foyer area between the arena and the next-door Victoria station just after the Ariana Grande performance ended.
One image captured bodies of the dead and injured lying in an area between the arena and the next-door Victoria station, which had been packed with people leaving the venue as the gig wound down.
As the explosion tore through the lobby, terrified youngsters stampeded for the sold-out 21,000-seater stadium’s exits in horrifying scenes caught on mobile phone cameras. Witnesses described the carnage as being ‘like a war zone’.
Armed police, the bomb squad and scores of emergency vehicles descended on the venue in the aftermath of the explosion, which took place at 10:35pm last night.
Shortly after 1.30am, a controlled explosion was carried out in the Cathedral Gardens near Manchester Arena, but police later confirmed the suspicious package had been an item of clothing.
Officials in the US said their UK counterparts had identified a possible male suicide bomber as being responsible for the atrocity. In a 3am press conference, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins confirmed his force were treating it as a terror attack.
An hour later, US star Grande, who escaped unharmed, tweeted she was ‘broken’.
‘From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words,’ she added. Her manager Scooter Braun said: ‘We mourn for the children.’
Witness Abby Mullen from Airdrie, who was at the event, described the carnage.
‘As we were leaving a bomb or explosion went off centimetres in front of me,’ she said. ‘People’s skin and faeces where everywhere including in my hair and on my bag.
‘I’m still finding bits of God knows what in my hair. You never ever expect these things to happen to you but this proves it can happen to anybody.
‘That sound, the blood and those who were running around clueless with body parts and bits of skin missing will not be leaving my mind any time soon or the minds of those involved.’
Prior to the incident yesterday evening, an unverified Twitter account posted cryptic Tweets showing the ISIS black flag alongside the hashtags #IslamicState and #Manchesterarena. It was unclear early today what if any significance these Tweets carried.
But the Tweeter also said: ‘You forget our threat? This is the just terror’. His account was deleted shortly afterwards.
Outside the arena, shocked concert-goers struggled to find ways home as the adjoining Victoria station was closed.
Chris Parker, 33, told how like many others he was heading towards the box office when he heard the explosion.
He told The Sun: ‘There was nuts and bolts flying everywhere, and also human flesh. It was just one bang and a white flash.
‘I treated a woman called Pauline. I’ve got blood on my hands. It was like a war zone inside where the box office is.’
Gary Walker told the Daily Star: ‘The nuts must have been packed in the device that’s exploded – there’s nowhere else they could’ve come from.’