A SUICIDE bomber slaughtered at least 22 people – including a 16-year-old pop fan – at a packed concert last night in the worst terror attack in the UK since 7/7, The Sun reports.
Among the dead is Ariana Grande fan Georgina Callander who has today been described as a girl who “lit up the room”.She had tragically written to her pop hero yesterday, telling the popstar: “SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW”.
A close friend told the Evening Standard she died with her mother at her hospital bedside. Thousands of adults, teenagers and children screamed and fled in panic as a terrorist detonated a huge bomb – thought to be packed with nails and bolts – as pop star Ariana Grande’s concert ended at the Manchester Arena.
Witnesses told of seeing shards of metal tearing into concertgoers in the foyer area of the world-famous concert venue – leaving dozens lying in pools of blood.
The horrific blast could he heard echoing through the packed arena as families tried to make their way home as the concert came to an end just after 10.40pm.
Thousands who had watched the appearance fled after hearing a “massive bang” with crowds of screaming and crying teens rushing from the venue.
Witnesses told how nuts and bolts were sent flying in the blast at the foyer area as fans made their way to Manchester Victoria train station next door.
Prime Minister Theresa May has slammed the “appalling terrorist attack”, which came on the fourth anniversary of the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby.
Shocking pictures and video footage have shown the bloodied injured leaving the 21,000 capacity arena as passers-by rushed to try and help.
Paramedics at the scene told the BBC of “shrapnel-like injuries”, suggesting the explosion could have been caused by a nail bomb.There are children among the 22 killed in the Manchester attack, Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said.
Mr Hopkins said the lone male attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated.
“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives. Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We continue to do all we can to support them. They are being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester.
“This is a fast-moving investigation and we have significant resources deployed to both the investigation and the visible patrols that people will see across Greater Manchester as they wake up to news of the events last night. This will include armed officers as people would expect. More than 400 officers have been involved in this operation during the night.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man. The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.
“Our priority is to work with the National Counter Terrorist Policing Network and UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who carried out this attack.
“We have received tremendous support from across the police services and partner agencies throughout the night.
“There remains a large cordon in place around Manchester Arena and Victoria Train Station which will be in place for some time. The station will remain closed while a detailed forensic search is underway. People should plan their route to work and follow Transport for Greater Manchester for updates on social media.
“Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in communities. We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times. In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues.
“It is important that we all continue to remain vigilant, but also to go about our daily lives. We would ask people to be alert and report any suspicious activity to police on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321 or dialling 999.
“Anyone with images or footage that can assist the investigation should be uploaded to UK police image appeal online.As of yet there’s no official claim of responsibility and officials have not established an ISIS link.
PRIME MINISTER HALTS ELECTION CAMPAIGN
THERESA May has condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” at Manchester Arena – as all parties suspended General Election campaigns. The PM said her thoughts were with the families of victims of last night’s explosion, which left 22 dead.
She has called an emergency Cobra meeting for 9am this morning. In a brief statement, the Prime Minister said: “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.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had spoken with Mrs May.
He said: “We have agreed that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice.” He added: “I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night.
“My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured. “Today the whole country will grieve for the people who have lost their lives.”
“There are building works going on in our block so we thought it could be connected to that at first. “But then we saw people streaming out of the arena down Cheetham Hill Road. They looked really shocked. Some we carrying balloons.
“Then we saw on Twitter that it was a terror attack. “We were in shock. You just don’t think anything like that will happen in your city.” Bomb squads were called in and carried out a controlled explosion on a suspicious item, which was later found to be abandoned clothing.
British Transport Police have confirmed the first explosion went off in the foyer area of the stadium, adding that emergency services are working to establish the cause and ask people to avoid the area.
Manchester’s Victoria Station, which backs onto the arena, was evacuated following the blast, and all train services were suspended for Tuesday.
British officials have yet to make a statement about the nature of the blast but security minister Ben Wallace has called for vigilance and asked anyone who sees anything suspicious to call the anti-terror hotline on 0800 789123.
Manchester Royal Infirmary declared a major incident at 11.10pm and cleared its A&E department to treat the victims.
‘BROKEN’ ARIANA CALLS OFF TOUR
Ariana Grande has posted a heartbreaking statement saying she is “broken” following the terror attack. The 23-year-old popstar, who was confirmed to be safe following the massacre, posted the emotional message on her Twitter account.
She said: “Broken from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” The singer is believed to have called off her world tour, having cancelled her gig in London on Thursday and put her entire European tour on hold, according to TMZ.
Social media users have reported seeing multiple arrests around the city, but police have not confirmed if any are linked to the incident.
Courtney Spencer, a 17-year-old student who was at the concert with a pal, told The Sun: “It happened just in front of us at the top of the stairs. We didn’t know what had happened. It could have been a gun or a bang or an explosion.
“We just grabbed each other and got away. One lass was laying in her mother’s arms. I’m not sure if she has collapsed in shock or was injured.”
Abby Mullen said she was also leaving the venue at the time of the blast and refuted earlier claims it had been caused by a speaker or balloon, which had circulated on social media after the explosion.
Chris Parker, 33, was walking through the station towards the box office when one explosion went off. He said he saw at least six people seriously injured on the floor and told The Sun: “I was walking through and one huge bang went off.
“There was nuts and bolts flying everywhere, and also human flesh. It was just one bang and a white flash. I treated a woman called Pauline. I’ve got blood on my hands. It was like a war zone inside where the box office is. “There looked to be at least six people potentially fatally wounded. I saw one woman’s leg off. It is mayhem.”
Concertgoer Majid Khan, 22, added: “I and my sister, along with a lot of others were seeing Ariana Grande perform at Manchester Arena, and we 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.
“Everyone was in a huge state of panic, calling each other as some had gone to the toilet whilst this had gone off, so it was just extremely disturbing for everyone there.”
“We were at the front right and the bang seemed to come from the back left, and then suddenly you just heard screaming and everybody was running from the back towards the front, it was just sheer chaos.
“We made our way to the side and I was looking down thinking, I thought if this is like Paris, if there’s anything else going on I’m going to get off via the stage.
“I thought it sounded like a bomb. Some people said it was a balloon – but I knew it was a bomb. “I think it’s appalling – there were so many children there.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. But you can’t let them win can you, we’re going to carry on, we’re going to go to more concerts.”A spokesman for Ariana Grande has confirmed that the singer was unhurt.
Manchester Arena said: “We can confirm there was an incident as people were leaving the Ariana Grande show last night. “The incident took place outside the venue in a public space.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.” A Twitter user said: “Everyone screamed and ran out I’ve never been so scared in my life.” Another added: “Just got out of Manchester arena after seeing Ariana perform. There was a loud bang when the lights came on & everyone ran out screaming.”
In the aftermath of the explosion youngsters struggled to get home with the city’s kindhearted residents offering places to stay and taxi drivers giving free trips.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This is a shocking and horrific attack targeting children and young people who were simply enjoying a concert. “My deepest sympathies are with the victims, and with families who have lost loved ones, as well as those desperately waiting for news.
“I would like to pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of the emergency services. “This is an attack on innocent people and the nation is united both in its grief and its determination to stand up to this kind of deplorable attack.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
Newly elected Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted: “My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services. A terrible night for our great city.”
US President Donald Trump has offered his condolences to the victims who lost their lives and their families in the Manchester terror attack which killed at least 22 people.
“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured… and to the so many families of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom.
“So many young beautiful and innocent people enjoying and living their lives, murdered… by evil losers in life,” he added, calling on the international community to rally to “protect human life” from terror.
Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley in Coronation Street, was among those tweeting asking for information with her daughter and husband caught up in the chaos.
She said: “My husband and daughter safe but what is happening at MEN please? They were told mass panic after loud noise that wasn’t explosion.” Others have turned to social media in a bid to check on relatives with a Holiday Inn in the city taking in unaccompanied children.
Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and is a popular concert and sporting venue.Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.