At least 19 dead, 50 in­jured in what po­lice are treat­ing as a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - LON­DON —

An ex­plo­sion at a pop con­cert in the north­ern English city of Manch­ester late Mon­day left at least 19 peo­ple dead and about 50 oth­ers in­jured, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

“This is cur­rently be­ing treated as a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent un­til po­lice know oth­er­wise,” the Greater Manch­ester Po­lice said in a state­ment.

Wit­nesses in­ter­viewed by the BBC re­ported hear­ing a loud blast fol­low­ing a per­for­mance by Amer­i­can pop singer Ari­ana Grande at Manch­ester Arena. Po­lice said the blast oc­curred around 10:30 p.m.

Ini­tial ev­i­dence at the scene sug­gested the at­tack may have been a sui­cide bomb­ing, ac­cord­ing to two U.S. se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties, who were meet­ing in emer­gency ses­sions across Manch­ester and Lon­don, did not im­me­di­ately con­firm those re­ports.

Cell­phone video showed chaotic scenes of peo­ple scream­ing and run­ning in the af­ter­math of the blast. The arena was packed with at­ten­dees and pink bal­loons that had fallen from the ceil­ing dur­ing the con­cert’s fi­nal song. Ini­tially, con­cert­go­ers said they thought pop­ping bal­loons set off a panic.

But wit­nesses later re­ported see­ing the prone bod­ies of those who had been wounded and killed, as well as oth­ers who were streaked with blood and were stag­ger­ing away from the scene. Some were in­jured in the rush to get out.

Wythen­shawe hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said it was deal­ing with “mass ca­su­al­ties.” Heav­ily armed po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices swarmed the arena as emer­gency ser­vices ad­vised the pub­lic to call only “for lifethreat­en­ing emer­gen­cies.”

Many of those at­tend­ing the con­cert were teenagers. Wit­nesses re­ported that out­side the arena, par­ents were fran­ti­cally at­tempt­ing to lo­cate their chil­dren.

A fa­ther told the BBC that he was leav­ing the arena with his wife and daugh­ter when the blast blew him through a set of doors. Af­ter­ward, the man, iden­ti­fied as Andy, said he saw about 30 peo­ple “scat­tered ev­ery­where. Some of them looked dead.”

Sep­a­rated from his wife and daugh­ter, he said, he “looked at some of the bod­ies try­ing to find my fam­ily.” He later found them alive.

“It was re­ally scary,” Michelle Sul­li­van, who was at­tend­ing the con­cert with her 12- and 15-year-old daugh­ters, told the BBC. “Just as the lights have gone down, we heard a re­ally loud ex­plo­sion … Every­body screamed. When we got out, they just said, ‘Keep on run­ning, keep on run­ning.’”

Wit­ness Karen Ford said “there were kids out­side, cry­ing on the phone, try­ing to find their par­ents.”

Con­cert­go­ers said the smell of ex­plo­sives hung heav­ily in the air. The singer was “OK,” a spokesper­son for Grande’s record la­bel told the Reuters news agency.

Around 1:30 a.m., po­lice an­nounced that there would be a con­trolled ex­plo­sion af­ter a sus­pi­cious de­vice was found. A loud bang was heard min­utes later.

The arena has a ca­pac­ity of 21,000. Manch­ester trans­port po­lice said the ex­plo­sion oc­curred in the arena’s foyer, where peo­ple were con­gre­gat­ing to buy con­cert mer­chan­dise. Manch­ester Arena said the at­tack took place just out­side the fa­cil­ity, in a pub­lic space.

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