At least 22 people have died and 59 others were injured in an explosion at Manchester Arena on Monday evening in what police are treating as a terrorist attack.
Police have not confirmed the cause of the explosion, which occurred around 10:30 p.m. local time (BST) at an Ariana Grande concert, but it is being treated as a terrorist incident.
In a press update at 3 a.m. local time, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the force is working closely with counter-terrorism and intelligence officials as it investigates. He said officers are “still receiving information,” and a further update will be provided when they have “a clearer picture.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said officials are “working to establish the full details” of the what police believe is an “appalling” terrorist attack. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she added.
Manchester police warned residents to avoid the area surrounding the arena, where Grande had just finished a concert. The American singer is safe, according to her spokesperson.
Police detonated a second device in a controlled explosion shortly after the initial event. It was “abandoned clothing” and not a suspicious item.
There are a number of reports, including from Reuters, that the first explosion could have been caused by a suicide bomber, although this is yet to be confirmed by local police. Eyewitnesses have suggested that the bomb could have contained nails and other metal items.
The first incident caused concertgoers to scramble out of the concert building, and videos posted on social media showed police cars and ambulances rushing to the scene. British Transport Police said the explosion occurred in the “foyer area,” or lobby, of the Manchester Arena, which has a capacity of 21,000.
Kim Jackson, a witness at the scene, described the incident to Business Insider: “We had floor seats and were just heading to exit. There was a massive bang from towards the back of the arena from the corridor area.
“Everyone went silent and then huge crowds of people came running from the back and everyone was screaming and crying. We just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible so we just headed straight for the exit. When we got up to the corridor there was smoke and we could smell burning. We just ran outside and got as far away as we could.”
Ariana Grande tweeted hours after the incident began to unfold: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, concert goer Sibion Joyce added: “The concert had ended and she had played her last encore. She went off and the lights came on. Everyone got up to leave. As we did we just heard a loud bang. People were running and people were really scared.”
Trains were cancelled to and from Manchester Victoria train station, according to National Rail, while the station approach has reportedly been closed by police.
Concert goers have been offered accommodation by locals, with people using the #roomformanchester on Twitter to help those in the city stranded without a place to stay. Meanwhile, a desperate hunt for missing people is underway.
The incident comes in the thick of a UK general election campaign, which will be put on hold on Tuesday out of respect for the victims in Manchester.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of the first to comment on events, saying his “thoughts are with all those affected.” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron added: “Deepest condolences to the victims and families in Manchester.”