Was The Ariana Grande Concert Explosion Terrorism?

by Melanie Schmitz

A night of entertainment and music quickly turned into a scene of chaos Monday night after reports of an explosion forced attendees to flee the Manchester Arena in Hunts Bank, Manchester, England. Fans were attending an Ariana Grande concert at the time of the explosion, though the singer was unhurt, her rep told E! News. There were no immediate reports that the reported explosion was the result of a terror attack, but the notion was still unsurprisingly on everyone's minds.

UPDATE: BBC reported at 11:40 a.m. local time Tuesday that 22 people have been confirmed dead and 59 injured in the Manchester Arena explosion.

UPDATE: In a statement early Tuesday morning local time, Manchester Police spokespersons said, "Just before 10.35pm on Monday 22 May 2017, police were called to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena. So far 19 people have been confirmed dead, with around 50 others injured. This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise."

In a separate tweet on Monday night, Grande wrote, "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."

EARLIER: "Emergency services responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena," police in Manchester wrote in a Twitter statement Monday evening, just before midnight. "Details of a casualty bureau for incident at Manchester Arena will be shared as soon as available. Please stay away from the area."

Police also stated that there were "a number of confirmed fatalities and others injured" in the reported blast, though initial details were scarce. As of early Tuesday morning, authorities had not pinpointed any suspect nor declared the incident an act of terror.

According to one concert-goer who spoke with The Guardian's Helen Pidd, fans were initially confused and unsure of what had happened after a "loud bang" sounded through the arena. Explained 20-year-old Newcastle resident Erin McDougle,

There was a loud bang at the end of the concert. The lights were already on so we knew it wasn’t part of the show. At first we thought it was a bomb. There was a lot of smoke. People started running out. When we got outside the arena there were dozens of police vans and quite a few ambulances.

Twenty-five-year-old Sophia Tedd, from Darlington, told Pidd,

We were sitting on that side then suddenly there was this big bang in the block next to us. Everyone started screaming and we nearly got trampled on. There was a burning smell.

Manchester News correspondent Chris Slater captured footage of ambulances and emergency responders on the scene a short while later. "A bomb disposal unit has just arrived outside the Manchester Arena," he tweeted. "Can also hear sniffer dogs being brought out of the vans."

According to Pidd, authorities continued to patrol the scene overhead as well. "Police cordon massive around Victoria Station, the Arena, Cathedral and beyond," she tweeted. "Police helicopter still circling above."

According to NBC News, at least 20 people were reportedly killed in the incident, and "hundreds" more were possibly injured in the reported blast. Law enforcement officials told the outlet that there were "possibly two explosions," though numbers were still rolling in.

At around 12:30 a.m. local time, British transport police issued a statement to reporters from The Guardian, stating,

Emergency services are at the scene and we are working to establish more information regarding the explosion and will provide further updates as soon as possible.