A blast at an Ariana Grande concert in the northern English city of Manchester has killed at least 19 people and wounded 50 others with police calling it a “terrorist incident”.
The bomb disposal unit was on the scene with ambulances early on Tuesday.
“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,” Greater Manchester Police said in a tweet.
There were no immediate details of what happened during the concert by the American pop singer, but witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:30pm (2130GMT).
A video posted on Twitter showed fans screaming and running out of the venue.
“A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena,” concert-goer Majid Khan, 22, told Britain’s Press Association.
Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters news agency the blast hit after the concert was over.
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” Macfarlane said.
“It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”
Greater Manchester Police tweeted asking people to stay away.
“The incident took place outside the venue in a public space,” police said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”
A “precautionary controlled explosion” was carried out near the venue early on Tuesday on a package that was believed to be a suspect device, but turned out to be “abandoned clothing, not a suspicious item”.
Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and has a capacity for 21,000 people, according to its website. It is a popular concert and sporting venue.
A spokesman for Ariana Grande’s record label said the singer was “okay”. The concert was part of Grande’s The Dangerous Woman Tour.
Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe” meaning an attack is considered highly likely.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack”.
“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commented on Twitter, saying: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
|Police set up a cordon outside the Manchester Arena in northern England late on Monday [Jon Super/Reuters]|
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies