At 20:33 on May 22, 2017, a terrorist detonated an improvised explosive device containing shrapnel in the form of nuts and bolts as crowds made their way out of an Ariana Grande concerte at Europe’s largest indoor arena in Mancheser, UK.
Twenty-two people – children among them – are known to have died.
The scene outside the Manchester Arena last night (photo: MIC Pix/Rex/Shutterstock)
In a statement, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “this has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.” This is the worst terrorist attack the UK has experienced since the bombings of London transport in July 2005 in which 56 people were killed, along with the four perpetrators of the attack, and more than 700 were injured.
In his statement, Hopkins said that the police received more than 240 calls and emergency services arrived on the scene quickly. “More than 400 officers have been involved in this operation during the night,” he added.
The North West Ambulance Service said that in total 60 ambulances attended the incident, taking 59 casualties to eight hospitals around Greater Manchester and treating a number of walking wounded on scene.
Given the fact that most of the audience at the arena were young, there were scenes of frantic parents trying to locate their children. Social media sprang into action, with Manchester residents and businesses offering their premises, homes, sofas, phone chargers and support to those stranded. Local taxi companies offered free rides and one – Street Cars – offered its headquarters as a place to stay for those who could not get home.
The police asked people not to speculate as to the identity of the attacker, or to share names, saying: “There is a complex and wide ranging investigation underway.”
At the time of writing, it is unclear whether the suicide bomber was in the venue’s foyer or just outside it. One statement suggested it took place in the arena’s foyer area, while the Manchester Arena tweeted that the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space.” Video footage taken immediately aftewards appears to show injured people in the foyer.
This does, however, once again bring into focus the issue of security at large venues. Searches in some venues are often said to be perfunctory. The danger is that, as with airports, introducing more stringent security controls at large venues that are visited by thousands of people, will merely push the vulnerable crowded area further back. See here for blog.
Emergency numbers were established for those trying to trace their friends and relatives and police have asked for witnesses to upload images and videos here to aid them in their investigations. The National Casualty Bureau number to call is 0800 0960095.