An explosion at Manchester Arena on Monday night has left at least 22 dead, including children, and at least 59 injured following an Ariana Grande concert at the venue. Greater Manchester Police say the event is being treated as "terrorist incident." Chief constable Ian Hopkins confirmed to the press on Tuesday morning that they believe the attack "was conducted by one man", carrying an "improvised explosive device" that he detonated, causing the horrific injuries and fatalities, killing himself in the process. The suspected bombing would mark the deadliest instance of terrorism in the UK since the 2005 7/7 London bombings.
The explosion was heard around 10.35PM BST, around when Grande was performing the last song on her tour stop as part of her Dangerous Woman tour. The pop star has been confirmed safe. "Ariana is OK," her publicist, Joseph Carozza, told the New York Times . "We are further investigating what happened." Hours after the attack, Grande tweeted that she was "broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don't have words."
Numerous early reports described one or possibly several large explosions taking place as concertgoers – primarily young people – were exiting the venue. The massive arena holds up to 21,000 spectators, though it is not known how many were in attendance at the time. Officials from Manchester Arena confirmed the incident in a tweet, noting that it took place outside of the arena in public space and not inside the venue itself.
Greater Manchester Police are asking all individuals to avoid the area. The suspected attack comes at a time when the threat level for international terrorism in the UK is on severe alert, meaning that an attack is highly likely, according to M15. Reports on social media from those who say they were at or near the venue detail an explosion, and photos and videos showing concertgoers fleeing the venue.
"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 to 10.45PM-ish a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena," fan Majid Khan told The Guardian. "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."
Concert promoter Live Nation issued a statement addressing the suspected attack late Monday, saying, "We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident."
Lorde was among a number of artists – including Nicki Minaj, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, local MC Bugzy Malone and others – who took to social media on Monday to express condolences and solidarity. She described the incident as a "worst nightmare", saying that every musician feels "sick and responsible". Bugzy Malone told us the following: "I am completely devastated at what happened in the M.E.N last night. It was a complete shock and I never thought something like this would ever happen in my home city. I know all eyes are on Manchester right now and my thoughts go out to everyone affected. It's heartbreaking that these evil attacks happen to innocent people."
Anyone in the UK with concerns over loved ones can contact 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900 for assistance.