Updated: May 23, 12:45pm EST
An explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on Monday (May 22) left at least 22 people dead, including children, and nearly 60 injured, according to Manchester police. Three of the victims have been named so far, the youngest was an eight-year-old girl. Chief constable Ian Hopkins said police believe the attack was carried out by Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old who died in the bombing.
“I can confirm that the man suspected of carrying out last night’s atrocity has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi” Hopkins said. “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network. ” Earlier, Hopkins said they believed the attacker was “carrying an improvised explosive device” Police also said they had arrested a 23-year old man in South Manchester in connection to the attack.
“It was a huge explosion—you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out,” one concert-goer told Reuters.
Grande had finished performing her last song at Manchester Arena (capacity 21,000), and fans of the American pop star were beginning to exit the packed venue, when a blast erupted at around 10:30pm, causing panic inside.
The explosion occurred just outside the arena, in a public foyer. A large area around the arena, including a main train station, has been cordoned off in the city in the northwest of England. The concert was heavily attended by teenagers, some with relatives. Parents have taken to social media pleading for help to find missing children.
Officers from the Greater Manchester police force carried out a controlled explosion on a suspicious item in Cathedral Gardens, near the arena, but have since confirmed that it was abandoned clothing and not a threat.
Campaigning for the UK general election, which is just over two weeks away, has been suspended by political parties. Prime minister Theresa May held an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning after which she reiterated that the UK’s terror threat level will remain at “severe,” as it has been for several years. This is the second-highest level, which means an attack is highly likely. Another meeting to plan the government’s response to the crisis will be held later today.
The police said they are currently treating it as a terrorist incident. This was the worst terror attack in the UK since the bus and train bombings in London in July 2005 that killed 52 people.
This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.