LONDON, May 22 (Xinhua) -- A number of fatalities were confirmed early Tuesday after major incident was declared at the Manchester Arena after an explosion as thousands of people left a concert.
A fleet of ambulances raced to the scene in the city center, as people fled the scene, as people were urged to evacuate the busy Victoria Railway Station close to the arena, with all trains halted. The whole area was also evacuated and a huge cordon set up.
The drama unfolded as people were leaving a concert by the American artist Ariana Grande. The artist was said to be safe.
Greater Manchester Police issued a statement confirming there had been deaths and injuries in what they said was a serious incident at the arena, which has a capacity of around 20,000.
There was no indication early Tuesday as to whether the explosion was terror related.
Police confirmed in an update there had been an explosion in the foyer area of the arena at around 22:30 local time.
One concertgoer described to local media how she heard a single bang, and people shouted it's a bomb. That sparked panic, she said, with people, many hysterical, just running away from the scene. She said she feared many people, some children, could have been crushed in the stampede for the exit.
"It was just a feeling of panic," she said.
Another eye witness described how many people were crying, with parents desperately clinging onto their children. There was a smell of burning and smoke, said another fan at the concert.
A significant number of casualties were being treated by paramedics in ambulances, as others were rushed to hospitals in and around the city.
A large area of Manchester city center, just a few hundred meters from the arena, was destroyed in 1996 by a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army.