Compiled photos of the accident. [Photo/News.com.au]
At least 22 people, including children, have been killed and 59 injured in a suicide bombing at a crowded pop concert in Manchester, the most deadly attack in Britain in a decade.
The horror unfolded at about 10.30pm on Monday at the end of a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande, whose music is popular with children and teenagers.
The attack, which took place in the foyer area of the arena, left hundreds of people fleeing in terror, with young people at the concert separated from their parents in the chaos. It left carnage inside the concert venue, with medics describing treating wounds consistent with shrapnel injury.
One witness said he could see nuts and bolts strewn on the floor of the foyer after the attack, which could suggest a nail bomb was involved.
Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, said: “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.
“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
The attack came less than three weeks before Britain’s general election on 8 June and May has suspended her campaign, as have the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party. Labour is expected to follow suit.
The PM will chair an emergency meeting of the government’s crisis committee, Cobra, at 9am on Tuesday.
Greater Manchester police have confirmed that they believe the bombing was the responsibility of one man armed with an improvised explosive device. The man is among the dead.
The investigation into the attack involves the police counter-terrorism network and Britain’s domestic security service, MI5.
The death toll would make it the worst event of its kind in Britain since the 7/7 bombing in 2005, which hit London’s transport network, killing 52 people.
Witnesses in Manchester described how, after the concert had finished, the house lights came up and then a loud bang was heard. Majid Khan, 22, said: “A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.
“It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit.”
Oliver Jones, 17, who attended with his 19-year-old sister, said: “The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run.”
People outside the concert were visibly upset, as a cacophony of sirens were heard and police and ambulance vehicles arrived at the scene.
Erin McDougle, 20, from Newcastle said: “There was a loud bang at the end of the concert. The lights were already on so we knew it wasn’t part of the show. At first we thought it was a bomb. There was a lot of smoke. People started running out. When we got outside the arena there were dozens of police vans and quite a few ambulances.”
A group of young men from Sheffield said they had seen at least five people covered in blood and others being carried out by bouncers. “Ariana Grande had just gone behind the curtain and the lights came up when there was this massive bang and a big cloud of smoke. I saw five people with blood all down them,” said one.
Sophie Tedd, 25, from Darlington, said, “Everyone started screaming and we nearly got trampled on. There was a burning smell.”
A woman with her husband and three young children said there was a loud bang as the concert ended. She said: “I just freaked. Everyone started screaming. We did not see any explosion but it smelled bad, like burning.”
The attack happened despite years of warnings and tightening of security, especially around crowded paces. Investigators will want to find out who carried out the attack and for what reason. They will also investigate where the material for the suspected device was bought and how it was designed.
Since the attack on London in 2005, measures have been put in place to restrict the purchase of materials that can be used to make homemade explosives.
The Manchester attack came after weeks of heightened activity and disrupted plots by police and MI5. In March, four people and the attacker died after an attack on Westminster, central London, which targeted the Houses of Parliament.
The terrorist threat level for Britain is at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. Security is expected to be reviewed for major venues in Britain and elsewhere.
In the US, the Department of Homeland Security warned of extra security measures: “The public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
In a statement just before 3am, Ian Hopkins, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, said the police had received reports of an explosion at 10.33pm at the conclusion of the Ariana Grande concert.
He said: “We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information, we are working closely with national counter-terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners. This is clearly a very concerning time for everyone. We are doing all that we can, working with local and national agencies to support those affected as we gather information about what happened last night.”
Hopkins urged people to remain vigilant and to stay away from the area of the attack so emergency services could continue their work.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted his sympathy for the victims: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said: “This is a shocking and horrific attack targeting children and young people who were simply enjoying a concert,” and paid tribute to the emergency services.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council, said the incident was “horrifying”.
“If it is confirmed this was a terrorist attack it is a monstrous act but also a deeply futile one. Manchester is a proud and strong city and we will not allow those who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims,” he said.
“We give heartfelt thanks to our emergency services for their response and council staff are doing all they can to support.”
The metro mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services.
“A terrible night for our great city.”
The Manchester Arena has a 21,000 capacity and is one of the largest music venues in Europe.
The ambulance service covering Manchester, which is dealing with a significant toll of wounded people, asked people to contact them only if they are in a life-threatening situation because of the “large number of resources” at the incident.
Source: The Guardian