'It shook my whole body' - Blackpool mum caught up in 'explosion' at Manchester Arena

A resort mum has spoken of her horror after being caught up in an incident at Manchester Arena.

Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, 2:15 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:34 pm
Armed police at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig (Pic: Press Association)

Stacey Wright, 24, from South Shore, reported a huge 'bang' at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande's gig finished yesterday evening (Monday).

At least 19 people have been killed and 50 have been injured, police said, with officers responding to reports of an explosion in the arena's foyer.

The incident is currently being treated as a terror attack, Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

Mum-of-two Stacey, whose oldest daughter Scarlette turns seven today (Tuesday), said: "I was just about to go to the toilet when we heard a really loud bang.

"At first it was pure shock and then something came over me. Everyone was running."

Stacey ran through a fire exit and was unharmed, though badly shaken. She said she didn't see a flash, but said smoke followed the bang.

Speaking to The Gazette as she made her way home on a coach with 10 other passengers, the student, whose youngest daughter Sophia is three, said: "It was not just something falling over. It shook my whole body.

"I just want to get home to my daughters. I can't begin to tell you how I feel."

The area around the arena has been swamped with armed police and emergency services, and approach roads have been closed.

One fan at the concert with his sister described how the apparent explosion happened as fans were leaving the arena.

Majid Khan, 22, said: "A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.

"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."

Oliver Jones, 17, who attended with his 19-year-old sister, said: "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."

And one dad, named Andy, 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 the concert.

He 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."

Andy said he helped emergency services treat the wounded who were "scattered" by a blast near a box office.

He added: "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."

Manchester's Victoria station, which backs on to the arena, was evacuated and all trains cancelled.

National Rail said in an online statement: "Emergency services are dealing with an incident at Manchester Arena. As Manchester Victoria is located near the arena, the station has been evacuated and all lines 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."

British Transport Police said: "Officers are at Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion within the foyer area of the stadium at 10.30pm 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."

A spokesman for American singer Ariana Grande, who was performing at the arena, told the BBC she was okay.

The North West Ambulance Service warned people only to call 'for life threatening emergencies', and said a 'large number of resources' were at the incident.