FIRST EYE WITNESS REPORTS & TIME LINE - Tuesday 23rd May 5.35am
A father has described seeing ‘carnage everywhere’ in the wake of an explosion at Manchester Arena that left around 30 people, including children and disabled victims, lying on the floor.
Andy Holey said he was blown ‘about 30ft’ by a blast that shook the building as he waited to collect his wife and daughter at the end of a concert by US artist Ariana Grande.
Mr Holey said he later saw panicking families trying to find loved ones in the wake of the incident on Monday night.
He told BBC News: ‘It’s shocking what happened. Just carnage everywhere. There was a good 20 to 30 of them [victims]. Some were young kids, some were disabled people.’
Mr Holey said he helped emergency services treat the wounded who were ‘scattered’ by a blast near a box office.
He said: ‘As I was waiting an explosion went off and it threw me through the first set of doors about 30ft to the next set of doors.
‘When I got up and looked around there was about 30 people scattered everywhere, some of them looked dead, they might of been unconscious but there was a lot of fatalities.
‘My first thing was to run in the stadium to try and find my wife and daughter.
‘When I couldn’t find them I looked back outside and the police, fire and ambulance were there and I looked at some of the bodies trying to find my family.
‘Luckily they weren’t there, I managed to find them outside the arena and got them back to the hotel.’
Gary Walker, from Leeds, was with his wife in the foyer waiting to pick up his two daughters who were at the concert.
He said: ‘I was waiting for the kids to come out. We heard the last song, and quite a few people were flooding out and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang, smoke.
‘I felt a bit of pain in my foot and my leg. My wife said, ‘I need to lie down’. I lay her down, she’d got a stomach wound and possibly a broken leg.
‘I was about three metres from the actual explosion. I am surprised I got away so lightly.’
Mr Walker said the explosion was by the door in the foyer, next to the merchandise, and that glass and metal nuts were left on the floor. He said he lay down next to his wife for up to an hour, until she was stretchered on a table to an ambulance.
His daughter Abigail, who was still in the auditorium with sister Sophie at the time of the explosion, said: ‘I had to make sure I had my sister. I grabbed hold of her and pulled hard.
Everyone was running and crying. We were just trying to figure where everyone was. It was absolutely terrifying.’
Abigail and Sophie contacted their parents by mobile phone, a moment Mr Walker described as ‘fantastic news’.
One man who took his daughter to the gig said: ‘Ariana said: ‘Bye bye Manchester!’ The lights came on then there was two big noises and people started running and shouting.
‘We got in a lift to go up to the next floor to the exits. When the doors opened I saw blood on the floor and two injured people. Blood all over their faces. A lot of people were in shock.’
Oliver Jones, 17, was at the concert with his 19-year-old sister. He said: ‘I was in the toilet and heard a loud bang just after the concert had finished and people had started to leave.
‘The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run.
‘I seen people running and screaming towards one direction and then many were turning around to run back the other way.
‘Security was running out as well as the fans and concert goers.
‘[There were] reports of blood and people injured, in so much shock and panic. You see this on the news all the time and never expect it to happen to you. I just had to run and make sure me and my sister were safe.’
David Richardson was at the gig with his daughter Emily, 13. He said: ‘The lights came on after the gig and people were starting to leave. As I turned to the left there was an explosion. It was about 40ft behind us near one of the exits. We just thought it was people messing about then it happened again. Another explosion sounded.
‘Then we saw the smoke. Everyone just fled. Some people were injured. We saw blood on people when we got outside. People were just running all over the place.
‘People have said it was a speaker or balloons but it wasn’t. It was explosions.’
Eyewitness Sasina Akhtar said: ‘She did her last song, we were in the lower tier and there was an explosion behind us at the back of the arena. We saw young girls with blood on them, everyone was screaming and people were running. There was lots of smoke.’
TIMELINE – As it happened online (starting from the last tweet!)
N.B. AM and PMs are reversed… must be due to “1 News New Zealand” thing. SO 3.57pm is actually 3.57am GMT on 23rd May 2017.
3.57pm: TMZ are reporting Ariana Grande has indefinitely suspended her world tour in the wake of today's attack, which means she might not be coming down under for the New Zealand leg of her tour in September.
3.45pm: Late Late Show host James Cordon has shared his condolences on the show.
3.39pm: Manchester Royal Infirmary's accident and emergency department is in "complete lockdown", The Guardian reports.
Staff say "It's a crime scene" as police forensic officers are taking clear plastic evidence bags to and from the hospital.
3.35pm: If the deadly explosion outside Manchester Arena today is in fact found to be an act of terrorism it will be the deadliest attack in the UK since the July 2005 London train bombings.
The 2005 bombing in London were carried out by four suicide bombers, which killed 52 people, on three underground trains and a bus.
3.31pm: Salford Royal hospital have released a statement advising public not to go to A&E unless it's an emergency.
"We're still treating patients and can't confirm the number at this time as it is a dynamic and constantly evolving situation with patients coming in and out all the time.
"We are currently working with both patients' families and the police on site."
3.25pm: The Scottish National Party, due to unveil its election manifesto has now postponed the announcement.
Leader and Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon will instead chair a meeting of the devolved government's resilience committee.
"My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all those who have been affected by this barbaric attack in Manchester.
"The Scottish Government is working with Police in Scotland and the UK Government to ensure that we have a full understanding of the developing situation," said Ms Sturgeon in a statement.
3.21pm: BBC correspondent Sarah Corker is reporting people were being treated for crush and shrapnel injuries.
3.13pm: The Department of Homeland Security in the US has released a statement regarding the attack in Manchester.
"At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States. However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.
3.08pm: North West Ambulance Service say a total of 60 ambulances attended the incident in Manchester today.
3.03pm: Ariana Grande's manager, Scooter Braun has also tweeted.
"Tonight, our hearts are broken. Words cannot express our sorrow for the victims and families harmed in this senseless attack.
"We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act. We are thankful for the selfless service tonight of Manchester's first responders who rushed towards danger to help save lives.
"We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers."
2.57pm: Ariana Grande has tweeted her condolences.
"From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don't have words."
2.51pm: New video shows the scene from inside Manchester Arena as the blast goes off.
2.42pm: Dashcam from a car across the road from Manchester Arena captured the moment of the blast.
2.38pm: Taylor Swift tweets: "My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight. I'm sending all my love."
2.35 pm: Frantic loved ones of young people missing have taken to Twitter and Instagram with their photos and pleas for help.
Many Manchester residents responded with offers of shelter and details on locations where displaced concert-goers had been taken in.
2.27pm: Greater Manchester Police say they are working with national police and intelligence agencies in what is being treated as a terrorist incident.
Police said this afternoon they were still gathering information about the incident and were setting up a telephone hot line to help people locate loved ones.
Police said there are 19 confirmed deaths.
Authorities are also asking the public to stay away from the area around Manchester Arena where an explosion disrupted a crowded pop concert by American artist Ariana Grande.
The British government is planning an emergency Cabinet meeting for later today.
2.20pm: Police have fronted the media over today's incident. Here's what they had to say:
1.57pm: We're waiting on a press conference with Manchester Police which we'll bring to you live. Meanwhile, here's another witness report told to AP: "A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena," concertgoer Majid Khan, 22, said
"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."
1:43 AM - 23 May 2017
Police Officers carrying out a precautionary controlled explosion in Cathedral Garden confirm that it was abandoned clothing, not a suspicious item
1.40pm: Theresa May is going to chair a meeting of the UK government's emergency Cobra committee later today.
A statement from 10 Downing Street earlier confirmed police are treating the incident as an "appalling terrorist attack".
1.37pm: The UK Prime Minister's General Election campaign is being suspended following the fatal explosion, Sky News reports.
1.35pm: Manchester Police say emergency services are still working at the scene of the incident.
They are about to update media at a press conference at 1.40pm.
1.32pm: Sir Richard Leese, leader of the Manchester Council has released a statement.
"This is an absolutely horrifying incident and our thoughts are with everyone affected, especially those who have lost loved ones or been injured and traumatised.
"If it is confirmed that this was a terrorist attack it is a monstrous act, but also a deeply futile one. Manchester is a proud and strong city and we will not allow those who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims.
"We give heartfelt thanks to our emergency services for their response and council staff are doing all they can to support."
1.29pm: Facebook has switched on a Safety Check facility for Manchester, allowing users to connect with friends and loved ones to let them know they are safe.
1.27pm: Manchester Evening News are reporting some medics at Salford Royal have volunteered to help with casualties on top of extra staff that have already been called in.
1.25pm: National Rail posted an updated saying Victoria Station is expected to be closed for the next 24 hours.
"Emergency services are dealing with an incident near Manchester Arena. As Manchester Victoria is located near the arena, the station has been evacuated and all lines closed."
1.24pm: Manchester Central MP, Lucy Powell says "Our great city will, as we have in the past, come together and unite in solidarity.
"We support all the families and each other."
1.21pm: UK Prime Minister, Theresa May has responded to the attack in a statement.
"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by police as an appalling terrorist attack."
All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."
1.16pm: Police at the scene say there are still a lot of people in the area, The Guardian reports.
Out of service buses have been pushed into service to ferry people out of the cordoned area, and some taxis are reportedly offering free rides for those affected.
1.12pm: Security minister, Ben Wallace, is calling for vigilance in the city.
"In the light of the attack in Manchester tonight, please be vigilant and if you see anything suspicious call the anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789123," he said on Twitter.
"My thoughts are with all the victims of the incident tonight & our emergency services who are out there tending wounded & keeping us safe."
1.09pm: The Greater Manchester Police have confirmed the controlled explosion carried out, was actually abandoned clothing and not a suspicious item.
1.03pm: The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham has tweeted his condolences.
"My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services. A terrible night for our great city."
12.54pm: Reuters and NBC News are reporting US officials say a suicide bomber is suspected over the Manchester Arena explosion.
12.49pm: Greater Manchester Police are set to hold a press conference at 1pm NZT.
12.47pm: New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade say they are "aware of reports of an incident at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom."
"The New Zealand High Commission in London is in contact with the local authorities. There is no indication at this stage that any New Zealanders have been caught up in the incident.
12.42pm: People at Wythenshawe A&E department have told the Manchester Evening News there are scenes of "absolute chaos" in the major trauma unit.
Staff at Salford Royal are also reportedly "preparing for casualties".
12.40pm: Guardian reporter Helen Pidd says an ambulance has sped up to the children's A&E department at Manchester Royal infirmary, where staff say small children are among the injured.
12.38pm: Media are reporting the controlled explosion has been carried out.
12.31pm: Greater Manchester Police say "there will be a controlled explosion in Cathedral gardens shortly".
They are urging the public not to be alarmed if they hear anything.
12.28pm: Leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn says his "thoughts are with all those affected" in the terror attack.
12.12pm: Greater Manchester Police have confirmed 19 people are dead and about 50 others are injured.
12.11pm: The Manchester Arena have released a statement confirming the incident took place "outside the venue in a public space" as people were leaving the concert.
12.07pm: A number of concert-goers are tweeting photos of loved ones and friends who they haven't seen since and cannot get in contact with since the concert.
The police say they are working to provide a number for anyone concerned about loved ones to contact, which will be released as soon as possible.
12.06pm: Early estimates are putting the number of fatalities in double figures, BBC reports.
12.04pm: 23rd May - The North West Counter Terrorism Unit are treating the incident as a possible terror attack, BBC reports.
Senior officers are assembling in London and liaising with the home office.
11.58am: BBC say British police are treating the blast as a possible terrorist incident.
11.55am: NBC News say senior law enforcement officials told them at least 20 people are dead, hundreds injured after possibly two explosions at the concert.
11.50am: Signs have been placed outside the doors of Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E department.
The signs read: "MAJOR INCIDENT, NO ENTRY" and "AUTHORISED STAFF ONLY".
11.48am: A woman has described running from the explosion with her two daughters.
Michelle Sullivan was at the concert with her 12-year-old and 15-year-old told the BBC: "It was really scary".
"Just as the lights have gone down we heard a really loud explosion... Everybody screamed.
"When we got out they just said 'keep on running, keep on running'."
11.44am: Police say emergency services are continuing to work at the scene of the incident and are repeating their warning for the public to stay away.
11.40am: According to the Guardian there is a Police cordon extending around Victoria Station, the Manchester Arena, Cathedral and beyond.
A police helicopter is also circling above.
11.38am: A barman at nearby Steven Charles Snooker Club told media he said the explosion sounded like thunder.
"We've had a few people in with panic attacks and in all kinds of disarray. We've got four girls here - trying to get them sorted to get picked up.
"There was a gentleman on the floor with his leg all bleeding and woman with blood down one side of her face."
11.34am: An actress on the UK show Emmerdale was attending Grande's concert today and says she was evacuated, and smelt burning and saw smoke.
11.32am: British Transport Police are saying there are reports the explosion was "in foyer" of arena.
"Officers are at Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion within the foyer area of the stadium at
11.26am: Joseph Carozza, a representative from Grande's US record label, said the singer is OK and they are investigating what happened.
11.25am: More from eye witness Andy Holey, he told BBC he saw "a good 20 to 30 bodies" on the ground after he'd managed to collect himself and start looking for his family members.
"Some of them looked like they might have been unconscious but there was a lot of fatalities."
11.23am: Concertgoer Josh Elliott has BBC’s Radio 5 Live of what happened the moment the blast hit.
"A bang went off and everyone stopped and screamed... we basically hit the deck," Mr Elliott said.
"It was bedlam… it was horrific.
"We got up when we thought it was safe and got out as quickly as possible.
"People were just crying and in tears... police cars were everywhere.
"We just wanted to get out as quickly as possible because we didn't know what was going on."
11.20am: Video shows chaotic scenes outside Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion.
11.17am: Reports are coming in from Twitter users that a bomb disposal unit has arrived at Manchester Arena.
11.13am: There is a strong presence of armed police in the streets surrounding the arena.
11.10am: Eyewitness Andy Holey told BBC News he saw "several bodies".
He was with his wife and daughter at the concert and said the explosion was near to a ticket office and was blown off his feet when it happened.
11.08am: Fans are taking Twitter to tell parents and children who have become separated that about 50 are at a nearby inn.
11.06am: The first pictures of injured people are starting to appear.
11.01am: Eyewitnesses told BBC News there are dozens of injuries.
10.59am: The Greater Manchester Police say, "details of a casualty bureau at Manchester Arena will be shared as soon as available".
They are continuing to advise the public to stay away from the arena.
10.57am: Video shared to Twitter shows heavy police and emergency services presence.
10.52am: Trains are cancelled to and from Manchester Victoria.
National Rail said in a statement:
"Emergency services are dealing with an incident near Manchester Victoria, resulting in all lines being closed.
"Trains are currently unable to run to / from Manchester Victoria. Some trains will be cancelled throughout or start / terminate at alternative stations. "Disruption is expected to continue until end of the day."
10.50am: Second vision from Twitter user claiming to be outside the concert, saying "you can see the explosion and hear the bang".
10.48am: One concert-goer, Hannah Dane, told the Guardian there was: "Quite a loud explosion heard from inside the Manchester arena and it shook, then everyone screamed and tried to get out."
10.46am: Greater Manchester Police are confirming "a number of confirmed fatalities and others injured".
10.45am: A Twitter user claiming to have friends working for emergency services says balloons filled with gas popped and there was a stampede because concert-goers thought it was a bomb.
10.43am: Station Approach closed outside Victoria.
10.36am: Fans are reporting on social media that two explosions were heard.
10.34am: The Greater Manchester Police are reportedly describing the situation as a "serious incident". They tweeted saying they are responding to the incident and are telling people to stay away from the arena.
10.32am: Twitter users are saying the noises were heard towards the end of the show with some claiming they believed the loud bangs were a "gun-shot" or a "bomb", but others tweeted saying it might have been a speaker that blew up or a balloon.
10.30am this evening.
"Emergency services are at the scene and we are working to establish more information regarding the explosion and will provide further updates as soon as possible.
10.30am: 22nd May - Concert-goers took to Twitter to say they heard explosions and were running from the concert at Manchester Stadium.