Possible ‘terrorist’ explosion at Ariana Grande concert leaves at least 19 dead, 50 hurt

MANCHESTER, U.K. –– At least 19 people are dead and almost 60 injured in what police are treating as a terrorist incident Monday night at Manchester Arena, where pop singer Ariana Grande was performing.

As concertgoers -- many of them young fans of the singer -- were beginning to leave the arena after Grande's closing set, an explosion rocked the area. Confusion followed as people fled in search of safety, and the sound of wailing sirens soon cut through the smoky air outside the arena.

A US official said suicide bombing is now considered to be the "likely" reason for the blast and a male at the scene in Manchester has been identified as the probable bomber.

A US Department of Homeland Security statement said it was "closely monitoring" the situation and added that the department has "no information to indicate a 'specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States.'"

Locally, NYPD commissioner James O'Neill tweeted police are closely monitoring events in Manchester, England to determine any possible implications for New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders in Manchester.

Here's what we know

19 people dead and almost 60 injured, Greater Manchester Police say Explosions reported at 10:35 p.m. on Monday, local time Law enforcement officials say a suicide bombing is the likely reason for the blast. A male at the scene has been identified as the probable attacker UK Prime Minister Theresa May described the incident as an "appalling terrorist attack."

The incident took place outside the venue in a public space, Manchester Arena says. Venue held 20,000 people, many young fans Emergency phone line set up for those who are concerned about loved ones: +44 (0)161 856 9400

The incident happened shortly after Grande had left the stage, according to eyewitnesses. Calvin Welsford, an 18-year-old concertgoer, said he heard a "loud bang" a couple of minutes after Grande's set had finished.

"Ariana was off the stage, she'd finished her set," he said. "I looked around because I heard this big bang, people screaming and crying and flooded towards the stage."

A US official said suicide bombing is now considered to be the "likely" reason for the blast and a male at the scene in Manchester has been identified as the probable bomber.

A US Department of Homeland Security statement said it was "closely monitoring" the situation and added that the department has "no information to indicate a 'specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States.'"

The city's Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital was blocked off to all but essential staff due to what the facility called a major incident.

Grande, who had just finished the first of three scheduled UK performances when the blast hit, was not injured. She tweeted several hours later: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."

After the initial incident, police carried out a precautionary controlled explosion nearby but the item turned out to be discarded clothing, not a "suspicious item," Greater Manchester Police said.

The crowd was made up of mainly younger people who had come to see Grande in her first of three scheduled concerts in the UK, on her European and Latin American tour.

Hotels opened their doors to people who could not get home due to an area lockdown. A nearby Holiday Inn hotel became a focal point for parents searching for their children who had been at the concert.

Taxis and local people offered free rides to those affected.

Social media posts from the scene showed panicked concertgoers running down the arena's stairs in an attempt to get away.

Charlotte Campbell told CNN her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, hasn't been in contact since the explosion.

"We've tried everything we can. They're telling us to wait by the phones. Her dad is out looking. ... It's the most horrible feeling ever, to know your daughter is there and you don't know whether she's dead or alive," she said.

Through tears, Campbell said she didn't know how anyone could do this to "innocent children."

"I want her home and I want her safe. ... I just want her to walk through the door."

Eyewitness Karen Ford had taken her 13-year-old daughter to the concert.

"It was mayhem on the street, there were children crying, trying to get in touch with parents, parents on their phones trying to contact their kids," she said, adding that cell connection was poor as so many people were using their phones simultaneously.

"I brought my baby home, which some people won't be (able to do) tonight."

Reactions

Universal Music Group, parent company for Grande's record label, Republic Records, posted a statement on Facebook.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of tonight's devastating event in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy," the post says.

Grande's publicist, Joseph Carozza, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the performer was safe.

"Ariana is OK. We are further investigating what happened," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement, confirming that police are treating the incident as a terror attack. She has suspended campaigning for June 8 general election and will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee on Tuesday morning.

"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."

 

CNN and AP reports contributed to this story.