Manchester remains a city in shock and mourning, following Monday (May 22) night’s suicide bomber attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left at least 22 dead and 59 people injured. Police confirmed a 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack.
Children were among those killed and it is feared that the death toll will rise as medical services tend to the many injured, some of whom have life threatening injuries. Almost 60 people are being treated in eight hospitals in the Greater Manchester area.
Sixty ambulances rushed to the arena after the incident, which took place at 10:30 local time at the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena just after Ariana Grande finished her set and left the stage. The first victim of the attack has been named: 18-year-old Georgina Callander, who died in the hospital following the blast. Prior to the concert, Callander tweeted, “So excited to see u tomorrow” at Ariana Grande.
An emergency number has been set up and relatives have been using social media to search for missing relatives and children.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned the “callous terror attack, which targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation.”
“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people but this attacks stands out for its appalling sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” the Prime Minister stated.
“The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had just been enjoying a concert,” Queen Elizabeth said in a statement. “I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured. I want to thank all the members of the emergency services, who have responded with such professionalism and care. And I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion, to this act of barbarity.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and first lady Melania Trump are among the world figures who have paid their condolences to the victims of the attack, which police said was carried out by a lone male attacker who detonated an improvised explosive device in the arena foyer and died at the scene. Police believe that they know the identity of the perpetrator, but have not named him.
Speaking in Israel, President Trump also paid tribute to “so many young beautiful innocent people… murdered by evil losers.”
“Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed. This wicked ideology must be completely obliterated,” said President Trump.
Following the attack, a huge police investigation is underway in Manchester with large zones of the city, including the area around Manchester Arena, cordoned off. Just before noon BST, another large part of the city center, by the Arndale shopping mall, was evacuated by police, but has since reopened.
Shell shocked eyewitnesses that Billboard spoke to in the immediate aftermath of last night’s attack told of hearing one and, according to some accounts, possibly two enormous explosions outside the arena complex as people were making their way out of the venue.
Chaos and confusion ensued with thousands of fans rushing to get out of the building, which is located close to the city centre and next to the Victoria Station rail terminal. Survivors spoke of seeing people covered in blood and people suffering horrific shrapnel-like injuries.
People also reported seeing bodies and body parts strewn around the arena foyer arena, which is located in a public area just outside the venue concourse, houses the box office and merchandise stall, and is outside the arena’s main security checkpoints.
In the hours that followed the incident, the sound of sirens and police helicopters could be heard throughout the city as desperate parents, fans and relatives made their way to the arena to check on loved ones. Many were in tears and too distressed to talk about what they saw.
One survivor talked of being picked up from the floor by a stranger as she fled the scene. “If it wasn’t for her, I would have been crushed,” she said, still shaking. Another told of sheer panic and confusion as people tried to frantically exit the building and find safety. Ambulance staff could be seen wheeling injured into ambulances as armed police guarded the area. Others had no idea of the severity of the attacks until they received updates on their phones and realized the horrific reality of what had taken place.
Many fans still remain stranded in the city this morning, having traveled from all over the country to see Ariana Grande, but unable to return to their hotels or get transport home. Local residents offered stranded concert-goers rooms for the night and places to stay Monday night.
Following the terrorist incident — which is the worst to ever occur in the North of England and worst in the UK since the 2005 London bombings — extra police officers have been put on duty in London with the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, saying that “London stands united with the great city of Manchester today after this barbaric and sickening attack.”
A vigil will be held in Manchester city centre Tuesday (May 23) evening to remember those who died.
A crowdfunding page to raise money to support the families of those killed and injured in the attack has raised over £20,000 in under two hours.