British Police Confirm Fatalities After Reported Explosion At Manchester Arena

May 22, 2017
Originally published on May 22, 2017 7:56 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Police in the English city of Manchester have confirmed a number of fatalities and injuries following reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from London. And Frank, tell us what you have learned so far.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Well, so far, one of the things we've seen is online video showing concertgoers screaming and fleeing the Manchester Arena. The Manchester news is reporting that there were two loud bangs just after the singer had finished her show. And you see a lot of - you can actually see in the arena the pink bouncing balls that they often throw at the end of concerts are still bouncing around the inside of the arena as people are rushing and screaming towards the exits.

There was a guy named David Richardson. He was there with his daughter Emily. He was talking to the newspaper. And he said that just after the lights came on he was heading for the exits, and there were a series of - well, two explosions and people - lots of smoke. And people went running. There was another man who spoke to the BBC. He was just outside the doors of the arena, waiting for his family. He said he was struck by the explosion, blown back about 30 feet and then afterwards was looking at a group of bodies on the ground, looking for his family. They apparently were all right. They weren't in that group of people. But there were also photos we've seen online of people leaving the arena in - with bandages on their legs and bleeding. We don't have an exact number, and we don't know exactly, you know, what caused these explosions.

CORNISH: Right. We've heard that term explosions several times. Have we heard any more detail in terms of maybe who might be taking some kind of responsibility or anything about this, if this is an attack...

LANGFITT: No, this is still early on. I mean, the sense is - outside of the arena right now is you have ambulances. You have police. We've seen police in squad gear and, you know, automatic weapons. One thing that's happening - as you can imagine, this is a young demographic, Ariana Grande, a former Disney star. So a lot of kids would have been there, probably teenagers maybe without their parents. And parents now are frantically calling, as you can imagine, trying to find their kids. And some I saw already on Twitter posting photos of their children, asking if anyone had seen them. So obviously an awful event in Manchester this evening but especially terrifying for many - so many parents in that city right now.

CORNISH: In the meantime, just for some context, right now the U.K. is on high alert. Or what's the tone...

LANGFITT: It is. It has been on high alert for quite some time because as you know, we've had a series of terrorist attacks here. There's no sign that - no - police aren't calling this a terrorist attack. But we have had a lot of those. And I was covering one just back in March when a man drove down the bridge in Westminster, a bridge right by Big Ben, and killed a number of people. Again, though, we want to emphasize we don't know the nature of this attack yet. Police are not yet saying.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting from London. And we'll be staying with this story throughout the evening and reporting on developments as we have them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.