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Manchester Arena ‘terror attack’: At least 19 dead, dozens injured after Ariana Grande concert explosion

www.abc.net.au

23rd May 2017

At least 19 people are dead and about 59 others injured after a suspected terrorist incident at a concert in northern England where Ariana Grande had been performing, British police have confirmed.

Key points:

  • British PM Theresa May said police were treating incident as “an appalling terrorist attack”
  • Explosion reported at Manchester Arena about 10:30pm local time
  • There was a stampede as hundreds of people fled the venue

The US pop singer had just finished performing at Manchester Arena to an audience that included many teenagers and children when there was an explosion at the venue.

Video posted on Twitter showed hundreds of fans fleeing after the concert, while a witness said she “felt the blast in her chest”.

“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” Catherine Macfarlane said.

Photo: Police escort an injured woman outside Manchester Arena after the explosion. (Supplied: Goodman/LNP/Rex/Shutterstock)

Other concertgoers said they heard “one or two loud bangs” at the end of the concert as the lights were coming back on.

Earlier reports said the explosion had happened in the foyer about 10:30pm (local time) but a statement from Manchester Arena said the incident took place “outside the venue”.

Was this a terror attack?

Police said they were treating this as [a terrorist incident]. They are wise to do that, given the evidence of what they have seen now, but there is still no confirmation of that yet.

They would be trying to see if this is part of a cell. If there is planning involved in this. If there is a network involved.

They would be using all of their overt and covert methods of trying to find out whether there has been increased activity amongst those they would have been observing.

That would involve the security services here in Britain. It would involve MI5 — the internal security organisation — and MI6 — the external committee — because if it does turn out to have been a terrorist attack of some sort, then there may have been some complicity either at home or abroad or, of course, there is that possibility of a lone-wolf attack.

Of course, we don’t have confirmation it is a terrorist attack, but it looks pretty bad. It has the hallmarks of that, but it is yet to be confirmed.

— Analysis by chief foreign correspondent Phil Williams

Residents living nearby said the bangs were loud enough to shake their apartment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Australian High Commission in London was making urgent enquiries to determine if any Australians had been involved in the incident.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said police were working to establish the full details of the incident, which is being treated as “an appalling terrorist attack”.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins from Greater Manchester Police said emergency services were still working at the scene.

“We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information. We are working closely with the national counter-terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners,” he said.

“We are still receiving information and updates, so we’ll provide further detail when we have a clearer picture.”

Video: Concertgoers panic as loud bang heard in Manchester Arena (ABC News)

If confirmed as a terrorism incident, it would be the deadliest attack in Britain by militants since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.

Witnesses saw people covered in blood, others on the ground

Witness Harry Johnson told a local radio station that when people heard the explosions, they ducked for cover as fast as possible.

“People were just looking around and no-one really knew what to do. Then there was just screaming and shouting,” he said.

GIF: Map showing location of Manchester concert explosion

Mr Johnson said as chaos ensued, people had difficulty trying to exit the venue through the stairwells.

“There was no space between anyone. Everyone was squished together trying to get out. It took around a minute to get out.”

Local man David Richardson was at the concert with his 13-year-old daughter Emily.

“The lights came on after the gig and people were starting to leave. As I turned to the left there was an explosion,” Mr Richardson told Manchester Evening News.

“It was about 40 foot behind us near one of the exits. We just thought it was people messing about … then it happened again.

“Then we saw the smoke. Everyone just fled… We saw blood on people when we got outside — People were just running all over the place.”

Photo: Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. (Reuters: Andrew Yates)

Another witness described to BBC radio in Manchester how she and her 12-year-old sister tried to escape the arena.

“You could see people running down the stairs and I grabbed my sister’s head and I ducked her underneath the chairs because I could see hundreds and hundreds of girls running … and there was no way for us to get out,” she said.

“I rang my boyfriend who was parked nearby and I said, ‘I don’t know whether to get out. I don’t know what to do.’

“He said: ‘Try and get out as quick as you can’. We scrambled to get back out. We got into the foyer and there was smoke everywhere and it smelt of dirty — I can’t describe it. I don’t know what it was.

“When we finally got out, there were people lying everywhere and they had bandages on their heads and my 12-year-old sister grabbed onto me and said, ‘I love you’ … it was horrible.”

Another eyewitness told the BBC he saw families separated in the chaos:

“I just saw everybody running out the exits,” he said. “I picked up a lady who said she was looking to her grandkids.

“She picked up a young girl off the floor who was covered in blood, her parents were laying next to her.”

‘I thought I was going to die’

Manchester woman Nicole, 22, spoke to triple j’s Hack program after she returned home safely from the concert.

“I literally thought I was going to die,” she said. “I just wanted to get out of there. I was crying, I was really upset, I just wanted to get out.”

Nicole said it took her about 15 minutes to exit the venue through the crush, and she did not personally see anyone injured around her.

“I kind of had an idea of what had went on, but then when I got outside I realised … there was police and everything else outside.

“And seeing little kids and stuff crying … it wasn’t nice to see.”

A spokesman for Grande said the performer was not hurt in the incident.

Photo: Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely. (AP: Peter Byrne)

The 23-year-old singer, who started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series, is on an international tour supporting her 2016 album Dangerous Woman.

The tour was scheduled to continue on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London.

Manchester Arena is the largest indoor arena in Europe, with a capacity of 21,000 — but it’s not yet known how many people attended the concert.

The arena foyer connects with the city’s Victoria train and tram station, a major hub on the northern edge of Manchester.

A centre has been set up in one of the local hotels where about 50 children have been taken in, as people try to reconnect them with their families.

Police are also in the process of setting up a casualty bureau, while people are using the hashtag #roomformanchester on social media, offering their homes to those who need help after the incident.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

ABC/wires

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Posted on May 23, 2017, in ConspiracyOz Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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