Cork father describes horror of Manchester terror attack

Cork father describes horror of Manchester terror attack
Stephen Purvis

A MIDLETON dad who escaped the Manchester Arena with his wife and son has said he feared that the terrorists would invade the concert venue to massacre people in a Bataclan-style attack.

Stephen Purvis, his wife, his son Cillian and a friend are home safe and well in east Cork following the attack that killed 22 and wounded up to 120.

Cillian, aged 16, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and although he has since been given the all clear, he attended the Manchester concert after he was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to see Ariana Grande.

Dad Stephen recalled the moment the bomb went off.

"You couldn't see the explosion but you could hear it, it was a massive bang," he told the Matt Cooper Show on TodayFM.

"I knew in my heart and soul it was a bomb. My wife was just about to run and my son was jumping over the chairs to get out with his friend.

"But I grabbed them and said 'hold on, we need to see what's going on, we don't want to run towards another bomb.

"My biggest fear was that people would just come in and start shooting the crowd at random."

"There was just pandemonium in the stadium."

The family made their way to the lobby area and witnessed the full extent of the massacre.

"I looked down and saw people's belongings and there was blood everywhere.

"The last thing I saw as we went down the steps was a trail of blood just leading to a woman's pair of shoes."

The foursome then moved away from the stadium, putting as much distance between them and the venue as possible, moving through the back streets of a strange city, concentrating on staying together.

"My wife kept saying over and over 'I don't want to die here, I don't want to die here'."

"I just said we've got to stick together and get out and get home safe."

Stephen says the one memory that has remained with him is the image of one of the victims, a 16 year old girl, who was killed that night.

They recognised her because she had also been at the Make A Wish meet-and-greet before the gig with the popstar.

"There was just pandemonium in the stadium," added Stephen.

The family made their way to the lobby area and witnessed the full extent of the massacre.

"I looked down and saw people's belongings and there was blood everywhere.

"The last thing I saw as we went down the steps was a trail of blood just leading to a woman's pair of shoes."

They got away from the stadium as fast as possible.

"My wife kept saying over and over 'I don't want to die here, I don't want to die here'."

"I just said we've got to stick together and get out and get home safe."

Stephen says the one memory that has remained with him is the image of one of the victims, a 16-year-old girl, who was killed that night.

They recognised her because she had also been at the Make A Wish meet-and-greet before the gig with the popstar.

Meanwhile, two more men have been arrested by counter-terror police in Greater Manchester in connection with Monday's attack, bringing the number in UK custody to eight.

One of the men was detained following searches of an address in the Withington area of the city, while another was arrested in a part of Greater Manchester that was not disclosed.

A woman arrested in the Blackley area of Manchester on Wednesday has been released without charge.

The investigation into the Manchester Arena atrocity has continued apace as security agencies swooped on the suicide bomber's suspected "network".

On Wednesday, a series of raids were executed across Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton, Warwickshire, while relatives of bomber Salman Abedi were detained in Libya.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, counter-terror police carried out a controlled explosion at a property in the Moss Side area of Manchester, although no arrests were reported by police.

Abedi's father, Ramadan Abedi, was arrested in Tripoli with his brother Hashim, who Libyan security forces said was "aware of all the details" of the attack.

A 23-year-old man - named in reports as Abedi's older brother Ismail - was detained in Chorlton, south Manchester, on Tuesday.

Ramadan Abedi had earlier claimed his son Salman was innocent, saying: "We don't believe in killing innocents. This is not us."

The developments came as the police investigation was hit by further leaks to the US media, with the New York Times releasing crime scene photos appearing to show bomb fragments and the backpack used to conceal the explosive.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said the leak of the pictures breached trust and "undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families".

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to raise UK concerns when she meets US President Donald Trump at a Nato meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Twenty-two people were killed and dozens seriously injured when Abedi, 22, detonated a device as fans left an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night.

With Britain on critical alert for further attacks:

:: Two men were arrested in Manchester in the early hours of Thursday morning, one in the Withington area.

:: Detectives carried out a controlled explosion as they searched a property in the Moss Side area of Manchester in the early hours of Thursday.

:: Three men were arrested after police executed warrants in south Manchester, while officers entered an address in the city centre using a controlled explosion on Wednesday afternoon.

:: Two further arrests included a man carrying a suspect package in Wigan and a man at an address in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

:: Sky News said it had obtained CCTV images which showed Abedi at Manchester's Arndale shopping centre on Friday after he bought the rucksack used in the attack.

:: Cheshire Police confirmed that one of its female officers died while off-duty at the concert but have not named her.

:: Almost 1,000 military personnel were being deployed around the country, including to key sites such as Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street, after the official terror threat assessment was raised to critical, the highest level, indicating that a further attack may be imminent.

:: France's interior minister disclosed that the bomber is believed to have travelled to Syria and said he had "proven" links with Islamic State (IS), which has claimed the attack.

:: Claims emerged in America, reported by NBC News, that members of the bomber's family had warned security officials Abedi was "dangerous".

:: Management for US singer Grande, whose concert had just finished when the bomb went off, said her world tour including upcoming gigs at the O2 in London had been postponed.

:: The Government announced that a minute's silence will be held at 11am on Thursday in remembrance of those who died or were affected by the attack.

The bombing was the deadliest terrorist incident to hit the UK since the July 7 attacks in London in 2005 and sparked a nationwide security operation amid fears further strikes could be imminent.



More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more