Manchester attack: Member of public leads 50 teenagers from arena to safety at nearby hotel

'Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,' says Paula Robinson

Katie Forster
Tuesday 23 May 2017 08:48 BST
Manchester attack: What we know so far

Around 50 children separated from their parents and guardians in the chaos of the Manchester Arena attack were taken to safety by a concerned member of the public.

Paula Robinson, 48, said she was at Victoria train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from the building.

At least 22 people, including minors, were killed and 59 injured when a lone male suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as fans left a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, police have said.

Ms Robinson, from West Dalton about 40 miles east of Manchester, said she “ran out” of the area seconds after the blast and “got the teens to run with me”.

She took the teenagers to a nearby hotel and shared her phone number on social media telling worried parents to contact her.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she told Reuters. “There were lots and lots of children at Holiday Inn.”

A spokesperson for Holiday Inn told The Independent two of its hotels in the direct vicinity of the area had worked with police to help people in the aftermath of the attack, but said Ms Robinson had in fact taken the group of teenagers to a different hotel.

Members of the public are escorted from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017
Members of the public are escorted from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 (Getty)

"We have got about 50 kids with us waiting to be picked up, they are safe we will look after them," Ms Robinson wrote in a Facebook post, which was then circulated on Twitter.

"Please re-post for any parents with children at MEN [Manchester Arena]. We have taken as many kids as we can to Holiday Inn we will keep them safe and stay with them."

Witnesses reported hearing a “huge bomb-like bang” at around 10.30pm, as fans were leaving the arena shortly after a show by Ariana Grande finished, and described glass and metal nuts on the floor.

Some witnesses described seeing smoke and smelling burning in the foyer area of the arena.

Police have set up a helpline on 0161 856 9400 for people searching for missing concertgoers.

Ms Robinson said this morning she was no longer with the children and recommended worried parents and guardians call the official number instead of her mobile.

The Holiday Inn spokesperson also said people should call the official helpline instead of the hotel directly. The hotel chain said it could not confirm the number of people it was still helping but said it had supported them throughout the night by offering “immediate refuge”.

The Prime Minister has condemned the “appalling” incident and General Election campaigning has been suspended.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins, confirmed the attack was carried out by one man although at this stage police do not know if the bomber “acted alone or was part of a wider network”.

Mr Hopkins said: “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.

“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives.

“Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones.

“We continue to do all we can to support them.”

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