It was an attack that shook the world on the evening of May 22, within Manchester arena. The detonated a bomb claimed 22 lives and injured almost 60 others. The casualties include an eight-year-old girl, a teen couple and a number of parents waiting to pick up their children up after the concert.
Speaking to Billboard, a 19-year-old Jade Steel shared her account of the blast that took place and her journey to safety.
The teen tells the news site she has pre-booked flights to the show months as a celebration of completing her first year of university.
“I was seated in Block 106, which is directly next to where the bomb went off. And my mum was in Block 113 - a few blocks away but on the same side of the arena. It was a lovely night. Everyone was enjoying themselves,”she recounts.
Steel spotted her mother after the show and while they were supposed to head straight to nearby train station, they opted to browse some of Ariana’s mechanise stores, which happened to be away from the [foyer entrance where the bomber was waiting].
“We walked over go to the counter, about 20 to 30 feet away and there was a huge, huge explosion. The only way I can describe it is like on a construction site when you hear the crash of metal. It was the most harrowing bang you’ve ever heard in your life.”
“There was white smoke and a bright orange light. Then there was silence for a second and then everyone started screaming. The whole arena was shaking and everyone started running towards the exits.”
Steel then turned to her mother and yelled, “Mum, we’ve got to go.” As the two women ran for their life, the teen remembers crossing “a girl of around 14 absolutely covered in blood,” which she says helped her realise the severity of the situation. “Up till then people had said it was electrical fault or had been a balloon exploding,” admits Steele.
As she ran, instinctively, Steele heartbreakingly believed that she was not going to get out of the arena alive. “I thought I was going to get shot in the back as we ran. I honestly thought I was going to die.”
Steele explains that once she and her mother reached the exit, “There was people everywhere. Everyone was pushing to get out.” And the crowds were just as big outside, Steele says she spotted a number of police cars. “The emergency services were unbelievable. They all got there so quickly.” She says.
Once in a safe zone, Steele’s adrenaline did not stop. She believes she and her mother kept running and were in an emotional state, even admitting she felt like she was “having a panic attack”, before the two women walked into town into Piccadilly Gardens and got a tram back to their hotel.
Now, three days after the event and Steele admits that the whole situation is still difficult to come to terms with. “It still hasn’t sunk in what happened. It’s horrific. I have no words for it. I’ve spoken to my friends who were at the gig and we're all shaken.”