A Derry student who manages a bar at Manchester Arena has described how people fled in terror as the bomb detonated following the Ariana Grande concert.
Andy Breslin (25) was among several Derry people working at the Arena when the suicide bomber struck on Monday night, killing 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl, and wounding 59 others.
Describing how events unfolded, Andy said: “I was just in my bar counting the tills. I had two left to count and all of a sudden just heard a massive bang.
“I got my staff around the back of the bar and locked the door and turned off the lights.
“I knew straight away it was an explosion, the noise was deafening and the noise of all the people running and screaming was horrendous.
“There was people saying it was a firework and stuff but it was way too loud for that.
“The announcer started saying ‘everybody calm down everything is fine’ but we could all smell smoke by this stage and the place was becoming cloudy with dust and smoke.”
Andy and his staff waited in the bar for 10 minutes.
“Then,” he said, “I threw all the money in a bag and headed downstairs.
“Usually we would turn right when we came out of the bar but we were being told to go the other direction. “Then the whole place was evacuated and we waited for about an hour to hear if we were allowed to get back in or not.
“When I came out , I seen one woman on the ground being treated, she was sitting upright and looked conscious but her face was covered in blood.”
Andy, who has been living in Manchester for four years and studies in Business there, said the staff after around an hour were told the Arena was under the control of the anti-terrorist team and they wouldn’t be allowed back in.
Like many other workers, he had no access to his phone and belongings, and was unable to contact his family anxiously waiting back in Derry for word.
“I had to get a 30 minute bus home then, and it wasn’t until then I came in and used my house mate’s phone to ring my Ma,” he said.
“The whole way home I still didn’t know what happened, then when I turned on the news I couldn’t get over it.”
Andy was today planning to go to university to collect his Student Card to use it as ID for his flight home on Thursday.