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MANCHESTER: 19 killed in suspected terror attack

Emergency response vehicles are parked at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester, northwest England on May 23, 2017. AFP PHOTO

Manchester, United Kingdom |  Nineteen people have been killed in a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in the northwest English city of Manchester, police said Tuesday.

There were scenes of panic as Grande’s audience of youthful fans fled the 21,000-capacity venue after what eyewitnesses described as a “huge bomb-like bang” in the foyer area at the end of the concert.

A fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue and bomb disposal teams were dispatched soon after, as city residents opened up their doors to stranded concert-goers after train services were shut down.

“So far 19 people have been confirmed dead, with around 50 others injured. This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” police said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack”.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she said in a statement.

The first unconfirmed reports of an explosion emerged shortly after 2145 GMT on Monday.

Gary Walker from Leeds told BBC Radio 5 Live he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters to come out of the concert.

“We heard the last song go and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke,” he said.

Manchester Arena said the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space”.

Isabel Hodgins, an actress who had been attending the concert, told Sky News: “Everybody was panicking, there was pushing up the stairs.

“The corridor was full, it smelled of burning, there was quite a lot of smoke as we were leaving.

“It’s just shocking and we just feel very shaken up. We’re just lucky to have gotten away safely,” she said.

Majid Khan, 22, who was attending the concert with his sister, said: “A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena”.

Calvin Welsford, 18, from Bristol told the BBC: “It almost sounded like a gunshot”.

“I looked around and people were just spilling down, heading out of the building”.

“I was actually having an asthma attack. It was sheer panic,” he said.

Police carried out a controlled explosion in a small park near the venue a few hours after the blast but said the item turned out to be only abandoned clothes.

Manchester residents opened up their homes to people who could not get home after the incident, sending messages with the hashtag #RoomforManchester.

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