A concertgoer at the Ariana Grande concert attacked by a suicide bomber described a “horrific” scene of panic and confusion as he tried to escape just moments after the pop star had finished her performance.
Zac Haniff and his friends were in the arena’s upper tier Monday night when they heard a bang that sounded "like a gunshot" go off seconds after Grande had finished her encore.
He said he thought a speaker had burst or a microphone had been dropped. But a few moments later, chaos erupted.
“That was when we saw everyone frantically running and screaming and crying. It was horrific,” he told TODAY on Tuesday.
British authorities say the attack in Manchester, located about 200 miles north of London, was the work of a suicide bomber.
At least 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 others were wounded, including some with life-threatening injuries. Many others remained missing.
The pop concert at Manchester Arena attracted thousands of teens and young children.
Police said an improvised explosive device detonated near one of the venue's exits at 10:33 p.m., just as fans had begun exiting the 21,000-seat venue.
Once outside, Haniff said he saw injured people everywhere.
“There were people with bandages, there was blood splatters everywhere,” he said. “We didn’t even know at this point what had happened. We heard the words ‘bombing’ and ‘explosives’ a few times. That was when everyone started panicking.”
People were screaming and consoling each other, and “little kids (were) crying.”
Another witness, Jessica Pierpoint, told TODAY that after the explosion, "The floor just started to shake."
"I've never heard a sound like it in my life," the 18-year-old said tearfully. "Everybody around me started screaming and crying. We just didn't know if it was a gunman."
Haniff noted that security was tight at the beginning of the evening, with security guards stationed at entryways and checking fans' bags.
But after the show, “they opened the doors for everyone” at the end of concert to allow fans outside, which may have allowed the attacker to slip in.
“It has changed my perspective in terms of safetiness," he said. "You just never know."