Just moments after Ariana Grande finished the final song of her May 22, 2017 concert at Manchester Arena, a suicide bomber detonated an explosion on the premises, killing 22 concertgoers and injuring 116 more.
ISIS claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest act of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London metro bombings. A scene of youthful fun turned to panic and violence as shrapnel and fire tore through the crowd pouring out of the Arena’s busiest exit.
Witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw a flash of light. Some were knocked down by the blast, while others scrambled for safety in the chaos. Frantic parents, family members, and friends began what would be an hours-long search for their children, and those from whom they had been separated when the rush to safety began.
Others took to social media with photos of their loved ones, using #manchesterarena to ask if any of them had been seen alive after the explosion. More than 240 emergency calls were made; 60 ambulances and 400 police officers helped in the search.
The youngest victim was 8-year-old Lancashire native Saffie Roussos. The attacker was later revealed to be 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Manchester native of Libyan descent whom investigators believe was radicalized after spending time in Libya in 2011.
Although he was known to British security services, he was not part of any active terrorist investigation at the time of the bombing. Evidence shows that others, including Abedi’s brother, were aware of his plans, and may have helped to carry them out.
Just after the attack, Grande tweeted: “from the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” Eleven days later, she returned to Manchester, visiting wounded fans and victims’ families.