A scene of chaos unfolded in Manchester last night, when a suicide bomber detonated a home-made explosive killing 22 and injuring dozens.
Ariana Grande had just finished her final song of her sell-out arena tour, when excitement turned to misery.
Fans who had travelled far and wide to watch the pop princess became a target of a terrorist attack, many of them being children.
Shortly after 10:30pm, 22-year-old Salman Abedi walked into the foyer and detonated the explosive, which killed and injured dozens.
15 people have been confirmed missing by family and friends. A further 59 sustained injuries, 12 under the age of 16. A total of 22 people have lost their lives.
The first victim to be named was student Georgina Callander. The 18-year-old ‘superfan’ had previously met the singer in 2015. Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, who was separated from her mother and sister has also been confirmed dead.
Eye witness accounts described the unimaginable course of events, speaking of fear, panic and pure carnage after the explosion took place. Witnesses claimed to have heard a huge bang coming from outside the arena. Others mistook the bomb for exploding balloons.
19-year-old Jade Steel who lives and studies in Manchester was at the concert with her mother Elaine when when the bomb went off. Having watched the pop star back in 2015, she booked tickets to go see Grande at Manchester as part of her world tour.
Swapping their tickets to a different tier because of their fear of height, Jade and Elaine were unable to sit next to one another and were separated during the performance. When the show came to an end, Jade suggested meeting her mother. Elaine however was already on her way to meet her daughter. Jade was very fortunate as the path she was originally heading to was where the bomb had exploded.
Jade was also involved in the bomb scare which took place last summer – Manchester United v Bournemouth. She thought “she was going to die then.” However whilst then it was an accidental practice, this time it was for real.
“There was a massive bang,” said Jade. “I have never heard anything like it in my life. I turned around and saw smoke and orange lights.
“It went silent for a split second because everyone was in shock and then they began screaming. I grabbed my mums hand and ran towards the next exit.
I thought I was going to get shot in the back and die. I then turned around and there was a girl covered in blood all over her arms and her face.
“We reached the main doors and there was a sea of people. You looked down the stairs that lead to the street and people were everywhere. People were screaming. People were pushing one another. It was awful. I managed to get out straight away. I walked into town and got on a tram to the nearest hotel.
“I’m surprised at the security. I work at Manchester United and on Sunday we had extra precautions put in place. When we were at the arena, there were no proper bag searches or body searches. They opened my bag but didn’t even check what was in it.
“I will never forget it. I was enjoying the show. I saw a young girl in front of me with her mum and dad. There were young children around and it breaks my heart.
“I wanted to remember it for all the right reasons. I had been waiting for it for months on end.
I have videos and pictures but I can’t even look at them. The last picture I took happened four minutes before the attack. I also have a video of the last song she sang.
Jade was due to take an exam on Wednesday, she said: “I was supposed to be doing an exam tomorrow but I submitted a form saying I couldn’t do it. The last thing I could do was sit an exam.
“It doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe it is real. I just feel lucky to be alive considering how close I was to the bomb. It breaks my heart for the victims and children who suffered. It is so wrong.”
Locals took to arms, desperately trying to help in any way the affected concert-goers, offering out beds using the hashtag #RoomForManchester. It was reported that a hotel, The Holiday Inn also took in dozens of children to keep them safe.
Taxi drivers turned also turned off their meters for the night, providing free rides to those affected in the attack.
Singer Grande, 23, expressed her shock at the event on Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency Cobra meeting this morning. May described the event as “appalling” and expressed her gratitude to the victims of the attack.
“It is not beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and this country have fallen victim to a callus terrorist attack targeting some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation. This is among the worst terrorist include we have experienced in the United Kingdom.
“Although it is not the first time Manchester has suffered this way, it is the worst attack this city has experienced and the the worst ever to the hit the North of England.”
Theresa May also said on Tuesday evening that the UK’s terror threat level has been raised to critical – the highest level possible. She said it is possible that there is a “wider group of individuals” responsible for the Manchester explosion
Isis early today claimed responsibility for the attack, hailing the bomber as a “soldier of the caliphate.”
In the wake of last nights attacks, we must stand up against terrorism, not stand down. The act of one evil individual cannot and should not divide a nation.