LONDON, May 23 : (Xinhua) – At least 19 people were killed and 50 more injured in a blast that occurred outside Manchester Arena right after the end of a concert late Monday night, the police confirmed early Tuesday.
“So far 19 people have been confirmed dead, with around 50 others injured,” the statement said.The latest statement by the police said the case is currently being treated as “a terrorist incident”.”This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” said the police. They said the explosion struck just before 10:35 p.m. local time.
According to local media reports, investigators are looking at the possibility of a suicide bomber.
A fleet of ambulances raced to the scene in the city center as people fled the scene. People were urged to evacuate the busy Victoria Railway Station close to the arena, with all trains halted. The whole area was also evacuated and a huge cordon set up.
Panic was triggered among the mostly young audience by the blast which took place as they were leaving the concert by American artist Ariana Grande, said the police.
The Manchester Arena has a capacity of around 21,000, but it is not clear how many of those struck by the blast had tickets to the concert.
One concertgoer described to local media how she heard a single bang, and people shouted “It’s bomb.” That sparked panic, she said, with people, many hysterical, running away from the scene. She said she feared many people, some children, could have been crushed in the stampede for the exit.
“It was just a feeling of panic,” she said.Another eye witness described how many people were crying, with parents desperately clinging onto their children. There was a smell of burning and smoke, said another fan at the concert.
A significant number of casualties were being treated by paramedics, as others were rushed to hospitals in and around the city.Cabs are taking the concertgoers for free to nearby hotels, and hundreds of people in the city are offering spare beds and rooms for those stranded in the city.
Meanwhile, the police said a controlled explosion is being carried out in an area near the Manchester Arena venue.
“There will be a controlled explosion in Cathedral Gardens shortly if you hearing anything don’t be concerned,” said a police Twitter, referring to a park near the concert venue.
A large area of Manchester city center, just a few hundred meters from the arena, was destroyed in 1996 by a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army.RSS