At least 22 people have been killed and more than 50 injured in a reported explosion at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England.
The blast, which authorities are now treating as a “terrorist incident”, occurred at about 10:35PM local time in a foyer of Manchester Arena near the Victoria train and tram station.
Armed police have cordoned off the scene as emergency services continue to ferry away injured concert-goers and families rush to determine the whereabouts of their loved ones, over four hours after the initial explosion.
Reports by NBC News suggest new evidence, including a body found at the arena, points to this being the work of a suicide bomber, potentially using an explosive device filled with nails. Paramedics at the scene are reportedly treating multiple “shrapnel-like injuries”.
This may be the deadliest incident of terrorism to occur in Britain since the July 2005 London Bombings, during which four suicide bombers claimed the lives of 52 people in central London. The UK’s terror threat level has stood at “severe” – meaning an attack is highly likely – for over two years.
Footage emerging on social media depict scenes of fear and confusion during and after the attack, with one video in particular, posted by Twitter user Ellie Cheetham, apparently capturing the moment the blast occurred.
— Ellie Cheetham? (@elliefreyax) May 23, 2017
— Carlos Delgado R. (@cadelgadorivas) May 23, 2017
EXPLOSION AT MANCHESTER ARENA AND EVERYONE RAN OUT SO SCARY? pic.twitter.com/pJbUBoELtE
— ♡♡ (@hannawwh) May 22, 2017
Many parents were coming to collect their children.
Andy Holey told the BBC he had come for his wife and daughter when he was knocked 30 feet back by the force of the blast.
“When I got up I saw bodies lying on the ground. My first thought was to go into the arena to try to find my family,” he said.
“When I couldn’t find them, I went outside with the police and fire and looked through some of the bodies to try and find my wife and daughter. I managed to find them eventually and they’re OK.”
Emma Johnson, who was waiting outside for her two daughters alongside her husband, told BBC Manchester Radio that she had no doubt it was a bomb in the foyer that set off the carnage.
“We were stood at the top of the stairs and the glass exploded. It was near to where they were selling the merchandise,” she said.
“The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere.”
— Samantha Jones (@JonesyLady) May 22, 2017
Video: Panic following explosions at Manchester Arena (Chris Pawley) pic.twitter.com/7T91kXg5Tr
— News This Second (@NewsThisSecond) May 22, 2017
Victoria station, which sits adjacent to the arena, has been evacuated and closed.
On Twitter, the hashtag #RoomForManchester has begun trending, with Manchester locals offering anyone currently stranded a place to stay.
Many taxi drivers are also taking people home for free.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has temporarily suspended campaigning for the upcoming June 8 general election and will soon chair an emergency Cobra meeting.
“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she said.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn also shared a tweet offering his condolences.
“Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services,” it read.