Monday, May 22, 2017
The Latest on the Manchester Explosions
■ Nineteen people were killed and around 50 people were injured in an explosion around 10:35 p.m. on Monday in the foyer outside the main hall of the Manchester Arena.
■ The police said they are treating the case “as a terrorist incident.” A controlled explosion went off nearby at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, as bomb squads continued to comb downtown Manchester.
■ The arena, built in 1995, can fit up to 21,000 people; it was not clear how many were inside for the concert by Ariana Grande on Monday evening. Ms. Grande was not injured.
■ NBC News and other news outlets, citing American intelligence officials, reported that the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber, but that account could not be immediately confirmed.
Witnesses said that the attack appeared to involve the use of a nail bomb. Nail bombs are used to increase the destructive power of explosives, as the shrapnel increases the bomb’s ability to wound its victims. A nail bomb was believed to have been used Monday in an attack at a military hospital in Bangkok that wounded two dozen people.
— Gerry Mullany
Laura Bruce, 18, was with her sister Amy, 25, in one of the Arena’s upper tiers when they heard the explosion. “Everyone below us just turned and ran,” she said. “Because we were higher up, we could not get out for five minutes. When we came out, a man walked past us, just covered in blood.”
Sophie Tedd, 25, had traveled from Darlington to attend the concert with her friend, Jessica Holmes. At the end of the concert, they heard a loud bang, and initially wondered whether “a speaker had blown.”
“Then everyone started crying and screaming,” she said. “Everyone ran out. People were pushing each other out of the way. It took a couple of minutes to get out. The police were outside, telling us to keep running, to run away from Victoria station.”
The Manchester police are working on the assumption that the deadly explosion at a young people’s concert was an act of terrorism. If so, it would be the worst act of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 bombings of London’s buses and subway killed 52 people.
But British authorities, who have foiled numerous terrorist plots, will hardly be surprised. The threat level set by MI5, the domestic intelligence service has been set at “severe,” the second-highest level, for months now, meaning that they considered an attack “highly likely.” And counter-terrorism officials have been warning that as the Islamic State becomes under more and more military pressure in Iraq and Syria, it will try to strike out abroad.
The crowd was filled with teenagers and other young fans of Ariana Grande, a 23-year-old American singer. She was not injured.
Passengers described a scene of pandemonium and mayhem following the explosion. Victoria Station, a train terminus next to the arena, was evacuated after the attack.
— Sewell Chan
Speculation that there might be another explosive device rose hours after the blast at deaths at the concert hall when the Manchester police said they had carried out “precautionary controlled explosion in Cathedral Garden.” It turned out to have been abandoned clothing, the police said, “not a suspicious item.”
— John Harney
The Manchester Arena is one of the world’s busiest areas, and the largest indoor venue in Britain with a capacity of 21,000, or 18,000 for concerts. It was constructed as part of Manchester’s bid to host the Olympic games in 1996 and 2000, and is near the Manchester Victoria Station, which was closed due to the attack.
The Arena opened in 1995 and has hosted some of the world’s leading musical acts, including The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna and Luciano Pavarotti. It also hosted the 2002 Commonweath Games
— Gerry Mullany