At Least 19 Killed in Terror Attack Outside Ariana Grande Concert
50 more injured as suspected suicide bomber targets concertgoers
On Monday night, Ariana Grande‘s concert at the Manchester Arena ended with an emergency evacuation after reports of explosions were heard. Waves of photos pervaded social media of audience members fleeing the venue bloody and with torn clothing. The crowd was predominantly young kids, teenagers and their parents.
The Greater Manchester Police Department reported 19 people were killed and about 50 more people were injured by an explosion as they were exiting the venue. Police are telling everyone to avoid the area so first responders can continue to investigate the scene. The GM Police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
Police stated the attack was perpetrated by a suicide bomber wearing a backpack, NBC News reports. The incident marks the worst terrorist attack on U.K. soil since the July 2005 London bombings.
“Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words,” Grande tweeted in the hours after the attack.
Witnesses believe the attacker used a nail bomb, and the injuries are consistent with the aftermath of that device, the New York Times reports. A nail bomb was also detonated earlier in the day at a Bangkok military hospital, an incident that result in 24 injuries.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said following the incident, “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
In recent months, Britain’s terror level had been elevated to “severe,” it’s second-highest level, which warned the public that an attack was “highly likely.”
“We are working with our foreign counterparts to obtain additional information about the cause of the reported explosion as well as the extent of injuries and fatalities,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday night.
“At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States. However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
Live Nation said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident.”
The Manchester Arena added, “We can confirm there was an incident as people were leaving the Ariana Grande concert show last night. The incident took place outside the venue in a public space. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”
A “bang” was heard at 10:33 p.m. London time, after Grande had performed her last song and people began exiting the venue. Universal Music representative Joseph Carrozza told Rolling Stone the pop star is “okay.”
“Suddenly everybody started screaming and running for the exit … We could hear the police and ambulance sirens. It was terrifying,” a concertgoer told MailOnline. “There were thousands of people trying to get out at once. They were all screaming and crying. The whole place smelt smoky and burnt.”
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” concertgoer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters. “It was a huge explosion — you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”
Majid Khan, a 22-year-old attendee told The Independent: “I and my sister … were all exiting the venue when around 10:40, 10:45pm-ish, a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena … It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit Trinity Way and that was blocked so everyone was just running to any exit they could find as quickly as they could.”
In the aftermath of the incident, families were separated in the ensuing chaos. “There are over 60 children without guardians at Holiday Inn,” Fox News’ Heather Childers tweeted. Facebook also activated a Safety Check for those in the area of the attack. “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,” Manchester police added.
Greater Manchester Police are advising everyone to clear the area. According to reports, bomb disposal units were also employed to the scene, as were bomb-sniffing dogs. The unit also triggered a controlled explosion of a suspicion package that turned out to be abandoned clothes.
The Manchester Arena is the United Kingdom’s largest indoor venue and second-largest in Europe with a capacity of 21,000. The venue is located in Manchester, about three hours north of London.
The opening musical guests were Victoria Monet and Boston-based hip-hop artist, Bia, who tweeted after the incident that she is safe.
Grande, the 23-year-old pop singer, was in the midst of her international tour supporting her 2016 album, Dangerous Woman. She is next scheduled to perform Thursday night at London’s O2 Arena, but TMZ reports that, given the circumstance, the concert is unlikely to happen.