LATEST UPDATES – 2:37 a.m. ET:
- Death toll pegged at 22; around 59 injured
- Police believe the incident was a suicide attack carried out by a lone man
- Police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
- Precautionary controlled explosion carried out after suspicious item found near the site of the explosion
Twenty-two people are dead — including children — and 59 were wounded after a reported explosion at the Manchester Arena in northern England, where American pop star Ariana Grande was performing Monday, according to a statement from Greater Manchester Police.
Authorities confirmed that the incident was a suicide attack and they believe it was carried out by one man, Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said Monday night.
“The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” he said.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosion device which he detonated causing this atrocity.”
Video coverage of Manchester Arena explosion
The explosion was reported at 10:33 p.m. local time as the concert drew to a close, Hopkins said. The exact location of the reported blast is not clear, with a British Transport Police statement suggesting it happened in the arena’s foyer area, and the Manchester Arena tweeting that the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space.”
The injured are being treated at six hospitals across Greater Manchester, Hopkins said, adding that people are urged to avoid the area to enable investigators and response personnel to work unhindered.
Police earlier carried out a precautionary controlled explosion in the area after a suspicious item was found near the site of the reported blast. The item was later confirmed to be abandoned clothing rather than a suspect device.
The North West Ambulance Service tweeted that area residents requiring ambulance services may face delays because of the large number of resources directed to the arena.
READ MORE: Manchester Holiday Inn, Premier Inn shelter kids and adults amid reported explosion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on Monday saying that authorities are “still in the process of determining whether any Canadians have been impacted by this event.”
“With our allies and partners, we will continue to counter such senseless acts and to fight terrorism in its many forms,” he said. “We will do all that we can to assist British authorities in bringing those responsible to justice.”
Witness Andy Holey told the BBC that an explosion sent him flying about 30 feet, as he waited at the arena to pick up his wife and daughter, who were attending the show.
“When I got up I saw bodies lying on the ground… it was definitely an explosion and it was some force. It happened near the box office at the entrance to the Arena,” Holey said, adding that his family was found safe.
Another witness told Reuters she felt a massive explosion as she was leaving the concert.
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” Catherine Macfarlane said. “It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out of the area.”
There was widespread confusion and panic in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, with some people screaming that they’d seen blood but others saying it was nothing more than a popped speaker or balloons bursting, the BBC reported.
READ MORE: Manchester Arena explosion: people react with horror to incident that left at least 19 dead
Several people took to Twitter to share photos of friends and family members who were at the concert and remain unaccounted for. The audience is believed to have included many children.
Steve Roterham, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, tweeted that his daughters were at the concert and are safe.
Joseph Carozza, a representative from Grande’s U.S. record label, said the singer is “okay,” and the label is investigating what happened at the concert.
Grande herself reacted to the incident just before 11 p.m. ET.
WATCH: Video of Ariana Grande performing before explosion killed multiple people
Greater Manchester Police said they are treating the explosion as a terrorist incident until they learn otherwise. British Prime Minister Theresa May said authorities are “working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.”
If confirmed as a terrorism incident, this would be the deadliest attack in Britain by militants since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Campaigning has been suspended in Britain’s election before citizens head to the polls on June 8.
Prime Minister Theresa May is to chair a meeting of COBRA, the British government’s emergency committee, after cancelling campaign events on Tuesday.
READ MORE: Timeline of terror attacks in Britain
Britain is on its second-highest alert level of “severe,” meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely. In March, four people were killed and 50 injured in a terrorist attack outside the U.K. Parliament.
The Manchester Arena opened in 1995 and has a capacity of 21,000, according to the venue’s website. It is one of the busiest entertainment venues in the world, and the biggest indoor arena in Europe.
Travel Canada tweeted that Canadians requiring emergency assistance can call 00-800-2326-6831 or email [email protected]
- With files from Jesse Ferreras, Reuters and The Associated Press
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