Manchester terror attack: Homeless man held woman as she died after rushing to arena to help victims

Chris Parker also helped young girl who lost her legs in the blast

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Tuesday 23 May 2017 11:06
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Manchester attack: What we know so far

A homeless man has spoken of the moment when a woman died in his arms after he rushed inside Manchester Arena to help the victims of Monday night’s terrorist attack.

The attack, carried out by a suicide bomber at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killed 22 people, including children, and left 59 injured.

Chris Parker, 33, said he regularly begs inside the foyer of Manchester Arena at the end of concerts when people are making their way home. He was in the foyer at the time of the attack and was knocked to the floor with the force of the explosion, then ran inside the building to help the victims.

Mr Parker described how he first helped a girl who had lost her legs in the blast, before helping the dying woman who had suffered serious leg and head injuries.

"Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else. As people were coming out of the glass doors I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming,” he said.

"It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help.

"There was people lying on the floor everywhere.

"I saw a little girl ... she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said 'where is your mum and daddy?' She said 'my dad is at work, my mum is up there'."

He said he thought the child's mother had died from her injuries.

Mr Parker, who has slept rough in the city for about a year, said he believed the dying woman he tended to was in her 60s.

"She passed away in my arms. She was in her 60s and said she had been with her family,” he said.

"I haven't stopped crying.

"The most shocking part of it is that it was a kids' concert.

"There were nuts and bolts all over the floor. People had holes in their back.

"It's the screams I can't get over and the smell ... I don't like to say it but it smelled like burning flesh.

"I don't think anything has sunk in yet. It's just shock."

Greater Manchester police are currently investigating whether the attacker acted alone or was part of a wider network.

The attacker is understood to have been carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated. He died in the blast.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins called the blast “the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one we all hoped we would never see”.

Campaigning for the general election has been suspended for today and Prime Minister Theresa May has held a Cobra meeting in the wake of the attack.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said a vigil will be held tonight in Albert Square in memory of the victims. “We are grieving today, but we are strong,” he tweeted.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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