Children have been confirmed among the dead from the Manchester concert blast, as the death toll rises to 22 and police confirm the attacker was a suicide bomber.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed about 4.10pm (AEST) that the earlier death toll of 19 had climbed, with 59 injured from the blast that ripped through an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester packed with young children about 10.35pm Monday (UK time).
Witnesses had earlier described the bomb as containing nails, while one witness reported finding nuts scattered throughout the foyer close to the scene of the explosion.
If the bombing is confirmed as an act of terrorism, it will be the worst such attack in Britain since the 2005 suicide bombings that killed 77 people.
Watch as the explosion rips through the venue
— Ellie Cheetham🌙 (@elliefreyax) May 23, 2017
People rush from the venue after the blast
A post shared by Zach Bruce (@zachwhiteguybruce) on
Desperate parents took to social media using the hashtag #ManchesterMissing to find their children, as chaos reigned after the blast.
Several social media users reported that local hotels had taken in more than 50 children who had left the stadium without guardians.
Pictures emerged on Tuesday afternoon (AEST) of relieved parents collecting their children from nearby hotels.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News there was no information to suggest any Australians were involved in the blast, but that enquiries were ongoing.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Parliament on Tuesday decried the Manchester blast as an “attack on innocence”.
“This incident, this attack, is especially vile, especially criminal, especially horrific because it appears to have been deliberately directed at teenagers,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Surely there is no crime more reprehensible than the murder of children. This is a direct and brutal attack on young people everywhere, on freedom everywhere.
“We stand in this chamber offering our sympathy and support to those confronting horrific attacks like what we’ve seen today,” Mr Turnbull said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said his heart went out to the parents affected by the tragedy.
so many elsewhere.
Grande was unharmed by the incident and hours later tweeted: “Broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have the words”.
TMZ reported Grande was “inconsolable” and “in hysterics” after hearing news of the fatalities and has reportedly suspended her world tour.
Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the victims and families of those involved in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack”.
Campaigning for the June 8 election was also suspended.
Witnesses describe pandemonium
One Grande fan who attended the concert told The New Daily that she saw police everywhere and people crying.
“We were coming out of the arena and a loud bang went off so everyone panicked. When we ran out there was lots of smoke,” the woman, who declined to have her name published, said.
“There was people with blood on them. It was so scary.”
Another concertgoer took to social media to describe the horrific scenes when the explosion occurred near her as she left the venue.
Abby Mullen spoke of being hit with blood and other matter by the blast.
Just out of The Ariana Grande Concert in Manchester,I thought we would leave seconds before the last song finished in…
Soon after police the scene, they tweeted that they would carry out a controlled blaster at the nearby Cathedral Gardens. The suspect package was later confirmed as being abandoned clothing.
The Sun‘s Tom Newton-Dunn cited hospital staff as saying the explosive device may have been a nail bomb.
“NHS [National Health Service] sources are saying the explosion at Manchester Arena was a nail bomb attack. Still unconfirmed,” he tweeted.
Manchester Arena is the largest indoor venue in Europe with the capacity to hold 21,000 people.
— Manchester Fire (@manchesterfire) May 23, 2017
Terrorist event at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. People fleeing for their lives.pic.twitter.com/oxh9gCQChF
— Grant J. Kidney 🇺🇸 (@GrantJKidney) May 22, 2017
– with agencies