At Least 19 Killed, 50 Injured In Incident At Pop Concert In England

May 22, 2017
Originally published on May 22, 2017 9:56 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Police are reporting at least 19 people have died so far following a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the English city of Manchester. Around another 50 people were injured. Police are treating this as a terrorist incident. For more, we turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt. He's following the story from London. And Frank, what more have we learned?

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Well, police say they were called at about 10:35 to the Manchester Arena, and there was a report of an explosion. Witnesses said just after the concert had ended and the lights had come up, they'd heard - you hear different reports - one, two, maybe as many as three blasts. The Manchester Arena - their Twitter feed is saying that the explosion occurred outside of the arena in a public space. Crowds of course raced for the exits.

There was one man who was speaking to the BBC. He said he was outside of the arena, and he felt the blast and was knocked back about 30 feet and that he saw a number of bodies lying on the ground afterwards and went searching for them, thinking perhaps his family members might be among those folks. And in fact they weren't, and he was able to catch up and find them.

CORNISH: The headliner, Ariana Grande, draws a fairly young crowd, and I understand there's been a lot of parents of young people who were at this show, right?

LANGFITT: Yeah. I think that a lot of teenagers went there probably on their own. And parents have been frantic, as you can imagine, Audie, to find their children. Just like that father that I mentioned, what you've seen on Twitter this evening is people posting photos of their kids and their friends, trying to get confirmation that they've been found and they've been seen and they're safe.

Also on Twitter, people are trying to arrange places for concertgoers to stay. It's very - it's early in the morning right now in Manchester. The arena is next to a train station, and that was reportedly shut down after the explosion. So a lot of people have probably also been stranded there in the city.

CORNISH: As we noted, police are calling this a terrorist attack. What has been the terrorism threat level in the U.K. leading up to this. And we're saying all this not knowing that anyone has claimed responsibility just yet.

LANGFITT: You're right. It's been at a severe threat level, and there hasn't been any claim so far of who might have been behind this. The United Kingdom of course is used to terrorist attacks, but this is a very bad one. I mean already with 19 dead, that's a lot of people certainly by United Kingdom standards. And many of them we expect will be quite young given the concert and given the headliner.

The last attack that we covered here was in March. There was - if you remember, we talked about it back then. There was a man who drove across the Westminster Bridge. He actually drove down the sidewalk and, hitting people, ended up ultimately killing five and wounding dozens of folks. And he tried to actually get into the houses of Parliament, was eventually shot by police officers - so again, really just in a matter of three months, two very significant, very public terrorist attacks here in the United Kingdom.

CORNISH: NPR's Frank Langfitt. Frank, thanks so much.

LANGFITT: You're very welcome, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.