Thursday 18 July 2019

Woman rescues 50 children overnight as she keeps them safe in Manchester hotel

Katie Forster

Around 50 children separated from their parents and guardians in the chaos of the Manchester Arena attack were taken to safety by a concerned member of the public.

Paula Robinson, 48, said she was at Victoria train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw "dozens" of teenage girls screaming and running away from the building.

At least 22 people, including minors, were killed and 59 injured when a lone male suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as fans left a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, police have said.

Ms Robinson, from West Dalton about 40 miles east of Manchester, said she “ran out” of the area seconds after the blast and “got the teens to run with me”.

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

She took the teenagers to a nearby hotel and shared her phone number on social media telling worried parents to contact her.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she told Reuters. “There were lots and lots of children at Holiday Inn.”

A spokesperson for Holiday Inn told The Independent two of its hotels in the direct vicinity of the area had worked with police to help people in the aftermath of the attack, but said Ms Robinson had in fact taken the group of teenagers to a Premier Inn.

"We have got about 50 kids with us waiting to be picked up, they are safe we will look after them," Ms Robinson wrote in a Facebook, which was then circulated on Twitter.

"Please re-post for any parents with children at MEN [Manchester Arena]. We have taken as many kids as we can to Holiday Inn we will keep them safe and stay with them."

Witnesses reported hearing a “huge bomb-like bang” at around 10.30pm on Monday, as fans were leaving the arena shortly after a show by Ariana Grande finished, and described glass and metal nuts on the floor.

Some witnesses described seeing smoke and smelling burning in the foyer area of the arena.

Police have set up a helpline on 0161 856 9400 for people searching for missing concertgoers.

Ms Robinson said this morning she was no longer with the children and recommended worried parents and guardians call the official number instead of her mobile.

The Holiday Inn spokesperson also said people should call the official helpline instead of the hotel directly. The hotel chain said it could not confirm the number of people it was still helping but said it had supported them throughout the night by offering “immediate refuge”.

The Prime Minister has condemned the “appalling” incident and General Election campaigning has been suspended.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins, confirmed the attack was carried out by one man although at this stage police do not know if the bomber “acted alone or was part of a wider network”.

Mr Hopkins said: “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.

“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives.

“Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones.

“We continue to do all we can to support them.”

Educational Cultural Officer, Julie Mullarney told that Manchester "won't be beaten" as all races and creeds united this morning in the aftermath of the attack.

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