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UK blast: Blood, horror, shock as bomber strikes young crowd

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/23/2017 By JILL LAWLESS, ROB HARRIS and JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press
Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — For a crowd of mostly young British music fans, the Ariana Grande concert was supposed to be a school night out enjoying cheerful high-energy pop.

Police work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Police work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)
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It quickly turned into sheer terror instead.

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Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

A suicide bomber detonated a powerful explosive device moments after the American singer wrapped up her show Monday night in Manchester, sending people into a desperate search for missing family and friends. The blast killed 22 people and wounded 59 others, with 12 of the wounded under the age of 16, officials said.

Armed police stand next to an ambulance after an explosion at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England Tuesday, May 23, 2017. An explosion struck an Ariana Grande concert attended by thousands of young music fans in northern England late Monday, killing over a dozen people and injuring dozens in what police said Tuesday was being treated as a terrorist attack. ( Peter Byrne/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Armed police stand next to an ambulance after an explosion at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England Tuesday, May 23, 2017. An explosion struck an Ariana Grande concert attended by thousands of young music fans in northern England late Monday, killing over a dozen people and injuring dozens in what police said Tuesday was being treated as a terrorist attack. ( Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

The youngest fatality identified so far, Saffie Roussos, was only eight.

Armed police gather at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Armed police gather at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

In attacking the concert, the bomber targeted an audience full of teenagers and 'tweens — Grande fans who call themselves "Arianators." Some wore kitten ears, like the star of the show.

Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Police says there are "a number of fatalities" after reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Police says there are "a number of fatalities" after reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Witness spoke of metal nuts and bolts strewn across the blast site, suggesting the explosive was packed with shrapnel.

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Fans, many clutching pink plastic balloons, scrambled in panic for exits of the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena. Some half-climbed, half-tumbled over barriers in terror. Parents waiting outside to pick up their children waded into the fleeing crowds desperately hunting for loved ones.

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

"It was carnage. Everyone was scrambling over each other ... It was just a race to get out really," said 14-year-old Charlotte Fairclough, who got tickets as a Christmas present.

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

"We just heard a bang. Everyone stopped and turned around," she said. "You could hear adults telling the little ones it was only a balloon."

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Many people took to social media and the hashtag #MissingInManchester became a cry for assistance on Twitter.

Police attend the scene following an arrest in Chorlton, south Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017. Greater Manchester Police say they have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the apparent suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the city on Monday night. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Police attend the scene following an arrest in Chorlton, south Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017. Greater Manchester Police say they have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the apparent suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the city on Monday night. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

"I've called the hospitals. I've called all the places, the hotels where people said that children have been taken and I've called the police," tearful mother Charlotte Campbell told ITV television's Good Morning Britain breakfast show.

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Her 15-year-old daughter Olivia attended the show with a friend who was found and is being treated in a hospital.

"She's not turned up," Campbell said. "We can't get through to her."

In targeting Manchester, the attacker also struck at one of Britain's cultural hearts. The once-gritty industrial city, along with London and Liverpool, has been one of the main cultural influences on modern Britain, with its iconic Manchester United soccer team, its cross-city rival Manchester City and chart-toppers Oasis, The Smiths and other famous bands. Oasis singer Liam Gallagher tweeted that he is "in total shock and absolutely devastated."

Former Manchester United soccer star David Beckham posted on Facebook: "As a father & a human what has happened truly saddens me. My thoughts are with all of those that have been affected by this tragedy."

Hayley Lunt took her 10-year-old daughter Abigail to the show, her first concert.

"Then we just heard lots of people screaming, and we just ran," she said. "What should have been a superb evening is now just horrible."

"Everyone ran back up the stairs and we eventually got out and they told us to run. We ran out of the arena and there were bodies on the floor," said 21-year-old Bethany Keeling from Keighley in northern England. "It was terrifying."

Grande was physically unhurt but described herself as "broken."

"From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry. I don't have words," she said on Twitter.

Ryan Molloy, 25, said he was just leaving the concert when "there was this massive bang."

"Everyone just went really quiet. And that's when the screaming started," he said. "There were just people all over the floor covered in blood. My partner was helping to try to stem the blood from this one person ... they were pouring blood from their leg. It was just awful."

Andy Holey, who went to pick up his family, said the blast threw him 30 feet (nine meters) through a set of doors.

"When I got up and looked around, there was about 30 people scattered everywhere. Some of them looked dead," he said.

Elena Semino and her husband were waiting by the arena ticket office for her daughter when the bomb exploded. Despite wounds to her neck and a leg, Semino dashed into the auditorium to search for 17-year-old Natalie while her husband, who had only a minor injury, stayed behind to help another wounded woman. She found Natalie and her friends safe.

Manchester residents came together in response to the bombing, offering free rides, food, accommodation and other help to those stranded after the attack.

"I have a sofa, floor, blankets and tea, 5 minutes from Arena for anyone in need," wrote one user on Twitter.

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John Leicester reported from Paris.

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