23 May 2017

People 'crushed trying to get out' at Manchester Arena

7:07 pm on 23 May 2017

Witnesses at the scene of a deadly explosion at Manchester Arena in the UK have described being thrown in the air and trampled trying to get out.

At least 22 people are dead and nearly 60 others are injured after the explosion, which struck about 10.35pm local time, shortly after US pop star Ariana Grande had finished performing at the arena. Police said a solo suicide bomber was behind the attack.

A young woman described people being trampled as panicked concert-goers tried to rush out of the doors of the arena.

Jessica Hough, a 21-year-old student vet, told Checkpoint with John Campbell she was at the concert and heading for the exit when the explosion happened, and then everyone turned back towards her.

She said people were screaming and running towards the stage, before she managed to get out of a back entrance just as a second explosion happened.

"There was blood all over the floor as we were leaving," she said.

"Shrapnel hitting them ... People just being trampled trying to get out and crushed trying to get out the doors. One person with just their whole T-shirt covered in blood."

Ms Hough said she and many other concert-goers were taken to a nearby hotel, which was now in lockdown.

Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter who had been at the concert, said one of the blasts knocked him off his feet.

"As I was waiting, an explosion went off and it threw me about 30 feet, from one set of doors to the other set of doors.

"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.

"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.

"It was definitely an explosion and it was some force. It happened near the box office at the entrance to the arena."

Mother grateful for lucky escape

One caller to BBC Radio Manchester, Emma Johnson, said she and her husband were at the arena to pick up their daughter, 15, and son, 17, who had been to the concert.

"It was definitely a bomb. It was definitely in the foyer - about 15 feet away. We were stood at the top of the stairs and the glass exploded - it was near to where they were selling the merchandise.

"The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards.

"We obviously then run to try and find our children and fortunately for us we were all safe to tell the story.

"We're just so grateful to be home and safe - I'm just praying for everybody else with loved ones there."

A group of young men from Sheffield told The Guardian they had seen a number of people covered in blood and others being carried out.

"Ariana Grande had just gone behind the curtain and the lights came up when there was this massive bang and a big cloud of smoke. I saw five people with blood all down them," said one.

Jade Baynes, 18, from Hull, told the newspaper armed police asked her to run from the area. She heard loud bangs and what sounded like gunshots just after Grande had finished.

"There were just a loud bang and a flash and everyone tried to scramble out. An alarm came on telling everyone to stay calm but leave as quickly as possible."

Eyewitness Jessica told the BBC: "It was shocking. Like I just heard this massive bang and then everyone just started running towards us screaming and crying.

"Everyone just trampled over us just to get out.

"I was shocked I didn't know what was going on. Everyone was sprinting so we were just getting stamped on and everything."

'Sickening' - NZer living in Manchester

A New Zealander living in Manchester said it was scary to think an explosion happened so close to her home.

Sarah Illingworth has been in Manchester for more than two years and lives just five minutes walk away from the arena.

The former Aucklander said there had been a constant stream of police sirens going off and helicopters flying overhead since the explosion.

"I just keep thinking about the fact that it's a pop concert with probably quite a lot of young kids and a lot of young girls, and it's pretty sickening to think that's an event someone would target.

"I mean it does shake you up that something like that can happen so close to you."

- RNZ / Reuters / BBC

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