Police have confirmed that 22 people, including children, have died following a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last night (May 22)
The attack was carried out by a lone man who detonated a device in the foyer area of Manchester Arena, shortly after the end of the concert. He died in the blast.
59 people were injured in the attack, with victims being treated at hospitals across the city. Children who became separated from their families were taken to a nearby Holiday Inn.
People remain missing, with families reporting that they are unable to get in touch with their loved ones. An emergency helpline has been set up at 0161 856 9400.
The blast occurred at around 10:30pm. A concert-goer told the BBC that panic ensued as people tried to run out the arena: "She finished her last song .. and we heard like a really basey bang, and all I can remember is just everyone ... was just running out... people were covered in blood, some people were having a fight, it was quite scary."
All general election campaigning has been suspended following the attack and flags across the country have been lowered to half mast. Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement: "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."
Earlier this morning, Manchester's Mayor Andy Burnham said: “We are grieving today, but we are strong. I want to thank the hundreds of police, fire and ambulance staff who worked through the night.
"I want to thank the people of Manchester: even in the minutes after the attack they opened their doors to strangers and drove them away from the attack.
"It will be that spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together."
Mr Burnham said the incident recalled memories of the 7/7 bombings in 2005, which took place when he was a government minister. “I remember how London felt on that day, I remember it vividly. Manchester will pull together - that’s what we are, that’s what we do. They won’t win.
“This city has dealt with difficult things in the past and we will do so now.”
The attack is the deadliest in the UK since the 7/7 bombings.
Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins gave the following statement
"This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.
"Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives. Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We continue to do all we can to support them. They are being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester.
"This is a fast-moving investigation and we have significant resources deployed to both the investigation and the visible patrols that people will see across Greater Manchester as they wake up to news of the events last night. This will include armed officers as people would expect. More than 400 officers have been involved in the operation during the night.
"To remind you, we were called at 10.33pm to reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. More than 250 calls came in and emergency services were very quickly on scene. Emergency numbers have been established for anyone who is concerned for loved ones who may not have returned home: 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.
"We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.
"The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.
"We would ask people not to speculate on his details or to share names. There is a complex and wide-ranging investigation under way.
"Our priority is to work with the national counter-terrorist policing network and UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who carried out this attack.
Ariana Grande tweeted: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) have confirmed that there is no shortage at the moment, so no blood drives are planned. Mike Stredder, director of blood donation at NHSBT, said: "We do have all the blood required for hospital patients at the present time; however, we are always keen to encourage new donors to register and existing donors to book an appointment which can be done at Blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 to find your nearest session."