The Slatest

The First Eyewitness Accounts of the Manchester Explosions Are Heartbreaking

Police escort members of the public from Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England, after explosions at an Ariana Grande concert.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The first eyewitness accounts and videos from the explosions at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England are beginning to arrive, and they’re heartbreaking. Twitter user @JoeAaronGregory captured what appears to be the blast in a dashcam video from outside the building:

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Twitter user @hannawwh captured the chaotic scene inside Manchester Arena in the immediate aftermath of the explosions:

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NBC News posted video of concertgoers climbing over barriers to reach the arena’s exits:

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The stampede continued outside the arena, as seen in @Zach_bruce’s video from Manchester’s Victoria Station:

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The BBC got detailed accounts of the explosion, which officials are treating as a possible terror attack, from several eyewitnesses. A woman named Rachel who was there with her daughter encountered a stampede of people trying to leave the arena:

As we were going out we heard an almighty bang. At first I thought we’d missed something in the concert. As we turned around the corner there was a horrific stampede of people coming down the steps, people falling on floor. I grabbed my daughter and we just ran. There were people being crushed on the floor.

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A woman named Anne-Marie reported a similar free-for-all in the immediate aftermath, complicated by the number of children attending the concert:

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You just felt this utter shud of the building and … there seemed to be a smog at the top of the stadium and around you. People were dropping to the floor and thought there might be a gunman in there. Unfortunately the security were at a loss as much as anybody else and it was just each to their own. There were a hell of a lot of children in the building unaccompanied tonight. I was trying to offer my support to a number of girls who were there on their own who were hysterical. They were around my daughter’s age [13] if not younger.

A man named Andy, who was in the arena’s foyer at the time of the explosion, was knocked off his feet by the explosion, and came to surrounded by bodies:

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When I get up and look round, there’s just bodies everywhere. I reckon 20–30 bodies. I can’t say if some of them were dead but they looked dead. They were covered in blood and were really seriously hurt. The first thing I did was I ran into the arena trying to find my family.

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Andy found his family unharmed, but described the scene as being “like something out of a war film,” with “kids and teenagers just lying there screaming.”  

Emma Johnson, who was also there to pick up her children, told BBC Radio Manchester she saw glass shattering in the foyer:

The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere.

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The Manchester Evening News also spoke to several eyewitnesses. Sasina Akhtar told them:

She did her last song, we were in the lower tier and there was an explosion behind us at the back of the arena. We saw young girls with blood on them, everyone was screaming and people were running. There was lots of smoke.

A 15-year-old girl told the Guardian, “There were people falling over the chairs trying to get away and when we were running out we saw blood up the walls.” A Lancaster woman named Elena Semino, who was wounded but didn’t seek medical attention until she found her daughter, said:

My husband and I were standing against the wall, luckily, and all of a sudden there was this thing. I can’t even describe it. There was this heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies everywhere.

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