One of Manchester’s biggest concert arenas, set to host artists as diverse as André Rieu, Kings of Leon and Radiohead this summer, was rocked by a terrorist attack last night (22 May) at around 10.30pm. Families are still searching for their children who have yet to be found after the attack.
The bomber at Manchester Arena has been confirmed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.
The bomb blast happened at the end of Ariana Grande’s concert in the British city as concertgoers left the building. So-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide-bomber attack, which took place at the foyer of the building close to the box office area as concertgoers were leaving the venue, essentially bypassing the usual security checks. Grande later wrote on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
A statement on the Manchester Arena website, released this morning, reads. “Last night, our community suffered a senseless tragedy. Our entire team’s thoughts and focus are now on supporting the people affected and their families… We are assisting the police in any way we can…We cannot praise the emergency services enough for their response…”
Casualties were taken to hospitals across the city, with reports confirming that 12 children under the age of 16 are among the 59 injured. The attack saw many children and young people separated from their families and friends seek refuge at a number of hotels across the city, with local taxi firms rushing to the scene offering their services for free to transport people home. Eyewitness statements said they “left the concert arena” to “see bodies everywhere” and that “hundreds of girls were running”.
The bomb blast killed 22 fans, including its youngest victim eight-year-old Saffie Rose, 18-year-old student Georgina Callander, and 28-year-old John Atkinson.
The pop concert drew 17,000 people to Manchester Arena, many of them youngsters, from across the country. Speaking from the city, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This has been an absolutely horrific attack, particularly given that the victims were young people and children, amongst others… to cut of young lives in this way is absolutely devastating.”
In a statement the Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles, said: “My wife and I were so profoundly shocked to learn of the truly dreadful event which took place in Manchester last night.
“That such a large number of people, including so many young concertgoers, lost their lives or have suffered so much in this appalling atrocity is deeply distressing and fills us with intense sadness.
“Words cannot adequately express what so many families must be feeling at this incredibly difficult time and our most heartfelt sympathy is with all those who have so tragically lost loved ones or who have been affected in some way.”
According to TMZ, 23-year-old singer Ariana Grande has reportedly suspended her world tour, and will not perform in London this Thursday.
In a public statement the singer’s manager, Scooter Braun, wrote: “We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act… We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers.”
A 23-year-old man was arrested in South Manchester in connection with the attack this morning. Flags outside the EU headquarters in Brussels are flying at half mast in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack.
The city of Manchester will hold a vigil tonight from 6pm-7pm in Albert Square.