Manchester – Frantic family members are still searching for their loved ones after the blast at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday evening.
For the crowd of mostly young British music fans, the Ariana Grande concert was supposed to be a school night out enjoying cheerful high-energy pop.
It quickly turned into sheer terror instead.
Packed with shrapnel
The suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, detonated a powerful bomb moments after the American singer wrapped up her show, sending people into a desperate search for missing family and friends. The blast killed 22 people and injured 59 others, with 12 of the wounded under the age of 16, officials said.
The youngest fatality identified so far, Saffie Roussos, was only eight.
In attacking the concert, the bomber targeted an audience full of teenagers and ‘tweens – Grande fans who call themselves “Arianators”. Some wore kitten ears, like the star of the show.
Witnesses spoke of metal nuts and bolts strewn across the blast site, suggesting the explosive was packed with shrapnel.
Fans, many clutching pink plastic balloons, scrambled in panic for exits of the 21 000-capacity Manchester Arena. Some half-climbed, half-tumbled over barriers in terror. Parents waiting outside to pick up their children waded into the fleeing crowds desperately hunting for loved ones.
Very serious injuries
Many people took to social media and the hashtag #MissingInManchester became a cry for assistance on Twitter.
“I’ve called the hospitals. I’ve called all the places, the hotels where people said that children have been taken and I’ve called the police,” said tearful mother Charlotte Campbell. Her 15-year-old daughter Olivia attended the show with a friend who was found and is being treated in a hospital.
“She’s not turned up,” Campbell said. “We can’t get through to her.”
The ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast.
The medical director of the North West Ambulance Service, David Ratcliffe, said: “A number of people have very, very serious injuries and are requiring intensive care and people who are going to be in hospital for a long time.”
Thousands of people turned out for a vigil in Albert Square late on Tuesday, with the crowd holding a minute of silence to honor the victims of the concert attack.
Lord Mayor Eddy Newman and the city’s police chief were among the speakers in front of city hall in Albert Square. Several people in the crowd held up signs with “I Love MCR,” an abbreviation for Manchester.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also said that the priority for police was to establish whether Abedi was acting alone or as part of a network.
Police arrested an unidentified 23-year-old man in southern Manchester on Tuesday. They also raided the house in Fallowfield where Abedi was registered as living and carried out a controlled explosion.
Alan Kinsey, 52, who lives across the street from the raided house, filmed at least 20 heavily armed police in helmets and armour march down the street, surround the house and blast down the door before entering.
He said he didn’t see anyone but police leave the house.
Concert promoters at London’s O2 Arena, where Ariana Grande is scheduled to perform on Thursday and Friday, say they are in contact with the singer’s team about her next steps.
Grande has yet to tell fans whether she will continue her European tour following the deadly blast at her concert in Manchester.
Random bag checks
Meanwhile, New York City police say they have tightened security at high-profile locations “out of an abundance of caution” following the deadly explosion in Manchester.
New York Police Department spokesperson J Peter Donald said in a statement that New Yorkers might see “heavy weapons teams”, explosive detection dogs and counter-terrorism officers.
Authorities also are conducting random bag checks at New York City transit locations.
Donald said the NYPD Intelligence Bureau “continues to be in regular contact” with its partners overseas.