MANCHESTER: An explosion that may have been a suicide bombing killed at least 19 people Monday night and wounded dozens at an Ariana Grande concert filled with adoring adolescent fans in what police were treating as a terrorist attack.
Panic and mayhem seized the crowd at the Manchester Arena as the blast reverberated through the building, just as the show was ending and pink balloons were dropping from the rafters in a signature flourish by Grande, a 23-year-old pop star on an international tour.
Traumatized concertgoers — including children separated from parents — screamed and fled in what appeared to be the deadliest episode of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London subway bombings.
Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and their families in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.”
The scene immediately evoked the terrorist attacks in Paris in Nov 2015, which included a deadly assault inside the Bataclan concert arena where the Eagles of Death Metal had been playing. But unlike the Bataclan victims, the Manchester concert was filled with teenagers.
People at the concert at the Manchester Arena said they had heard what sounded like explosions at the end of the show, at around 10.30pm local time.
At least one explosion went off in the foyer of the arena, according to the British Transport Police, the force that protects Victoria Station, the train terminus next to the arena. The terminal was evacuated.
Early Tuesday morning, Sky News reported that a bomb disposal team had arrived on the scene as part of the investigation and that the security cordon around the arena had been widened.
A concertgoer, Sasina Akhtar, told The Manchester Evening News that there had been an explosion at the back of the arena after the last song. “We saw young girls with blood on them,” she said. “Everyone was screaming, and people were running.”
Grande, a singer with a big voice who started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series, is on an international tour supporting her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman.”
“Ariana is OK,” Grande’s publicist, Joseph Carozza, said before the enormity of the episode was widely known. TMZ, the entertainment news website, said Grande was reported to be “in hysterics” over the deadly blast. – NYT