MANCHESTER, England — At least one explosion thundered through a Manchester concert arena on Monday night just as a performance by the pop star Ariana Grande ended in what the police described as a “terrorist incident.” They said at least 19 people were killed and 50 wounded as panicked spectators including children screamed and fled.
There was no immediate word from the police on the precise cause of the blast but it immediately evoked the terrorist attacks in Paris in November of 2015, which included a deadly assault inside a concert arena where the Eagles of Death Metal had been playing.
“This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until the police know otherwise,” the Manchester police said in a Twitter posting.
People at the concert at the Manchester Arena said they heard what sounded like explosions at the end of the show around 10:30 p.m.
At least one explosion happened in the foyer of the arena, not the main event hall, according to the British Transport Police, the force that protects the Victoria Station, the train terminus next to the arena. The terminal was evacuated.
Early on Tuesday morning, Sky News reported that a bomb disposal team had arrived at the arena as part of a police investigation and that the security cordon around the arena had been widened. But there was no confirmation as to whether a bomb or bombs had, in fact, gone off.
One concertgoer, Sasina Akhtar, told The Manchester Evening News that there had been an explosion at the back of the arena after the last song. “We saw young girls with blood on them, everyone was screaming and people were running,” she said.
Ariana Grande, a 23-year-old singer with a big voice who started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series, is on an international tour supporting her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman.”
The tour was scheduled to continue on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London. Two additional acts, Victoria Monét and Bia, performed as openers.
”Ariana is O.K.,” said her publicist, Joseph Carozza. “We are further investigating what happened.”
Parents who had been separated from their children during the mayhem were told to go to a Holiday Inn, where many of them had taken refuge. Local residents offered stranded concertgoers places to stay in their homes.
The confusion and fear in the hours afterward was reflected on social media. On Twitter post asked: “Did anybody see my girlfriend? I lost her in the chaos.”
The BBC interviewed one witness, who was waiting outside the Manchester Arena to pick up his wife and daughter, recounting that the “whole building shook,” that there was “carnage everywhere,” and that the explosion appeared to come near the stadium’s ticket area. But the BBC emphasized that it was not clear what caused the explosion.
Videos posted on Twitter showed concertgoers running and screaming from their seats. Hannah Dane, who attended the performance, told The Guardian that she had heard “quite a loud explosion heard from inside the Manchester Arena.”
She added, “It shook, then everyone screamed and tried to get out.”
“There are a number of confirmed fatalities and others injured,” the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
The Manchester Arena, opened in 1995, can hold up to 21,000 spectators; it was not clear how many people were in the crowd for the concert.
Karen Ford, a witness, told the BBC that she was leaving the concert when “everyone was just getting out of their seats and walking toward the stairs when all of a sudden a huge sound, which sounded like an explosion, went off.”
“Everyone tried to push people up the stairs,” she recalled, adding that in the chaos, people tried to push past a woman in a wheelchair as children screamed.
She said there was no smoke, just one very loud bang. “It was very, very loud,” she said, adding that her husband thought he had heard a second explosion. “There were shoes on the floor,” left behind by people who had fled, she recalled.
“Just chaos,” she said. “I was trying to tell people to calm down.” She added that the crush of people trying to flee created a perilous situation: “We were being crushed.”
Outside, Ms. Ford said, parents awaited their children who were attending the concert, checking their smartphones in a panic. “Everyone was trying to find each other.”
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