According to the New York Times, an explosion during a Monday-night Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom has resulted in multiple injuries and fatalities. The explosions reportedly occurred during the conclusion of the pop singer’s concert at the Manchester Arena, after the encore; she is said to be unhurt. The Guardian states that 21,000 people were at the arena at the time of the attack. The venue is one of the largest and busiest in the world, with more capacity than any other venue in the country.
According to a concertgoer named Sasina Akhtar who spoke with The Manchester Evening News, the explosion, which has been described by multiple sources as a “series of loud bangs,” happened at the back of the venue after the final song of the set had been performed. She described a horrifying scene of people running and screaming, covered in blood.
The British Transport Police have released a statement, explaining that the blast occurred in the foyer of the arena at 10:30 PM. An eyewitness named Andy Holey, who was waiting outside the venue said the explosion happened near a box office, and he was blown off his feet by it.
A former Nickelodeon child star, Grande has a massive following that skews towards the younger spectrum. According to a reporter at the arena, “Parents are arriving here and comforting visibly upset children, who are crying and hugging in the street.”
Crime reporter John Scheerhout, who writes for The Manchester Evening News, says Wythenshawe Hospital is expecting mass casualties, with the medical center issuing an official request that “Anybody who is not serious, can you please leave and get treatment elsewhere.” And now a pair of signs outside the emergency department of the hospital read “MAJOR INCIDENT, NO ENTRY” and “AUTHORISED STAFF ONLY.”
Signs have been placed outside the doors to A&E at MRI. Read 'MAJOR INCIDENT, NO ENTRY' and 'AUTHORISED STAFF ONLY'. pic.twitter.com/goKPiglwPj
— Todd Fitzgerald (@TFitzgeraldMEN) May 22, 2017
Freelance reporter Denise Evans describes another nearby hospital, Salford Royal NHS as having tight security around its emergency department (A&E). She has also tweeted that those looking for loved ones should follow @gmpolice on Twitter for accurate updates and instructions.
If you are involved in the incident or concerned for a loved one, please follow @gmpolice for accurate updates and what to do
— Denise Evans (@DeniseKEvans) May 22, 2017
A Twitter user posted this video below, showing the chaotic aftermath of the explosion.
EXPLOSION AT MANCHESTER ARENA AND EVERYONE RAN OUT SO SCARY pic.twitter.com/pJbUBoELtE
— (@hannawwh) May 22, 2017
Manchester police have issued a statement on Twitter, confirming the fatalities and urging people to stay away from the area. More details on the extent and nature of the casualties will be issued as well.
Police statement on incident at Manchester Arena pic.twitter.com/gaKASukx9a
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 22, 2017
Armed police are currently at the scene of the incident, and The Manchester Evening News reporter Paul Britton captured this photo:
Police presence here outside Manchester Arena. pic.twitter.com/eM6v7Ki64t
— Paul Britton. (@PaulBrittonMEN) May 22, 2017
Britton is also reporting that many survivors are holed up in a nearby Holiday Inn, waiting to be escorted away from the scene.
All roads into the town center have been closed off and a bomb disposal unit is on the scene, according to a pair of tweets from Guardian reporter Frances Perraudin:
Armed police and helicopters overhead in Manchester, around the corner from the arena. All roads into town blocked off. pic.twitter.com/KMxniNNC3c
— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) May 22, 2017
Bomb disposal going into the arena. pic.twitter.com/FG3g4CkpoM
— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) May 22, 2017
UPDATE 1 (4:58 PM PST):
NBC News reports that at least 20 are dead after the incident at Manchester Arena. Further, hundreds are expected to have suffered injuries. The story also describes the possibility of two separate explosions. The arena is built atop the Manchester Victoria subway station, and all lines have been closed and the station evacuated.
Similarly to how strangers offered their homes in the wake of the Paris terrorist attack, local venues and offices in Manchester are taking to Twitter to provide shelter for survivors – including The Manchester Evening News itself.
— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) May 22, 2017
UPDATE 2 (5:21 PM PST):
ABC News states that 19 have been confirmed dead so far, and that 50 people are confirmed injured.
The Manchester Arena has now released a statement on Twitter, which explains that the incident in fact took place outside the arena in a public space: “We can confirm there was an incident as people were leaving the Ariana Grande show last night. The incident took place outside the venue in a public space. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victimes. Please follow @gmpolice on Twitter for all further updates.”
Additionally, Greater Manchester Police have released additional details, which confirm the 19 dead:
“Just before 10:35 pm on Monday 22 May 2017, police were called to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena.
So far 19 people have been confirmed dead, with around 50 others injured.
This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise.”
If it is in fact a terrorist attack, it will be the worst to strike the United Kingdom in over 10 years. In 2005, a blast in the London subway and bus system killed 52 people.
Evans has shared a statement from Salford Royal NHS:
“We are accepting patients from tonight’s incident at Manchester Arena but we cannot comment on how many.”
UPDATE (5:35): Greater Manchester Police have released an advisory on Twitter that there will be controlled explosion in Cathedral Gardens, a park located adjacent to the Manchester Arena.
“There will be a controlled explosion in Cathedral gardens shortly if you hearing anything don’t be concerned.”
According to Britton, the explosion just happened:
Controlled explosion was carried out at Cathedral Gardens. To repeat, police have urged people not to be concerned.
— Paul Britton. (@PaulBrittonMEN) May 23, 2017
Greater Manchester Police confirm the explosion was precautionary and it was simply abandoned clothing and not an explosive.
Paurraudin of The Manchester Evening News shared an account from a victim named Elina Semino, who is suffering from a relatively less severe injuries to her leg and neck (she had not had her wounds treated at the time of the statement). She, like many other parents, were waiting outside the arena for the show to conclude. She described an intense heat on her neck and “saw lots of people injured on the floor.” She ran to find her husband and daughter, who are fine and helped an injured woman.
Sports reporter for The Manchester Evening News, Chris Slater, reported on Twitter that 10 ambulances zoomed past into the police cordon with their sirens on. He also explains that the size of the cordon is ever-increasing with armed officers yelling at anyone who approaches to stay back.
UPDATE 3 (7:05 PM PST): Greater Manchester Police have announced an emergency number for those who are searching for information on loved ones that were in the area at the time of the explosion.
An emergency number is available for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area – 0161 856 9400
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 23, 2017
Facebook has switched on its Safety Check application for Manchester. This program allows people in the area of the attack to report their status and whereabouts for loved ones to check.
The Manchester Evening News has posted a police press conference on Facebook:
National Rail has posted an status update regarding the transit lines in the vicinity. Victoria Station (which lies below the scene of the explosion) is expected to be closed for the entirety of the day on Tuesday. Trains that use the station will either start and terminate at nearby stations or have service completely cancelled.
The MP of Manchester Central, Lucy Powell, has issued a statement on Twitter: “Our great city will, as we have in the past, come together and unite in solidarity. We support all the families and each other.”
UPDATE 4 (7:14 PM PST): Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has announced that she will suspend her campaign after the explosion. She stated that police were treating the incident as an “appalling terrorist attack.” One of her opponents in the upcoming election, Liberal Democrat Tim Farron, has cancelled an upcoming campaign event while Jeremy Corbyn described the ongoing situation in Manchester as a “terrible incident.”
According to North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the company has taken 59 people to local hospitals as well as treated an undisclosed number of “walking wounded” at the scene.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in a statement that was tweeted by the police organization: “I can confirm the details of events tonight that we currently know. At around 10:33 pm las tnight we received reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena in the city centre. It was at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande Concert.
“Currently we have 19 people confirmed to have died and round 50 people injured. The injured are being treated at six hospitals across Greater Manchester. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected and we are doing all we can to support them.
“Officers from GMP and emergency services are working at the scene and are supporting those affected. We are co-ordinating the response from GMP headquarters.
The statement goes on to add:
“We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise. We are working closely with the national counter terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners.
UPDATE 5 (7:27 PM PST): A video from within the arena has been posted on Twitter. In it, the crowd is slowly filtering out of the venue and towards the exit when a distant “boom” can be heard in the background. People around the person filming seem to instantly know something is wrong with one girl asking “Oh my gosh, what just happened?”, and screams can be heard:
— TheAnonJournal (@TheAnonJournal) May 23, 2017
As reported by the New York Times, according to a statement from one of the victims named Gary Walker, after the show had ended he heard a massive band and saw a brilliant flash. He was with his wife and two daughters, and after the explosion realized his wife had been injured by the blast, with wounds to her stomach and leg. As he lay down with her, he was metal nuts on the floor. This indicates that the explosion was the result of a “nail bomb,” or a homemade explosive device that uses shrapnel like nails, screws, nuts and ball bearings to increase the devastation wrought by the blast.
UPDATE 6 (8:08 PM PST): Ariana Grande has released a statement regarding the explosion that occurred immediately after her concert in Manchester, UK ended last night:
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.
UPDATE 7 (5/23): The day after the incident in Manchester, UK, the death toll stands at 22 while 59 people are reportedly wounded and were treated at eight different area hospitals. The chief constable of Manchester’s police department, Ian Hopkins, stated that some of the dead are children.
Hopkins confirmed suspicions that the explosion was due to a suicide bomber; it is believed he acted alone but police are investigating whether he was part of a larger network. The man detonated an improved explosive at the public area outside the venue’s ticketing areas at the end of the concert, killing himself. The police are investigating whether nuts, bolts and other shrapnel were used in the explosive device.
The first victims are being identified – so far an 8 year old girl from Leyland, Lancashire named Saffie Rose Roussos and 18 year old Georgina Callander.
UPDATE 7 (9:52 AM PST, 5/23): The suicide bomber has been identified as 22 year old Salman Abedi. He died in the blast – police have arrested a 23 year old man in South Manchester in connection with the attack.
ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack, releasing a statement:
“With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion, in an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin, and in response to their transgressions against hte lands of the Muslims. The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be even more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission. And all praiseis [sic] due to Allah, Lord of the creation.”
UPDATE 8 (10:43 AM PST, 5/23): Ariana Grande has indefinitely suspended her European tour. Her manager Scooter Braun left a statement on Twitter:
“Tonight, our hearts are broken. Words cannot express our sorrow for the victims and families harmed in this senseless attack.
We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act. We are thankful for the selfless service tonight of Manchester’s first responders who rushed towards danger to help save lives. We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers.”
Watch this space as it is an ongoing breaking story and will be continuously updated.