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Bermudians in Manchester relive terror attack

Bermudians living in the North of England have spoken of their horror at the terrorist attack that killed 22 people in Manchester on Monday evening.

The deadly bombing after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena also left 59 people wounded, many of them children, and has stunned the northern city.

Law student Shar Pemberton, 30, who lives close to Manchester city centre, said she was taken aback by the news when she heard it yesterday morning.

“It's close to my house — I live close to the city — and I actually go to concerts there a lot,” she told The Royal Gazette. “When I saw the news, I was like ‘wow' and then when I found out there was children [hurt], I was just shook. I was very disheartened.”

Ms Pemberton, from Pembroke, made her way into the city in an effort to donate blood for wounded victims, but the necessary amounts had already been reached, such was the outpouring of support from the community.

“It was like a madhouse, but English people, they pull together when times get hard. They really have it under control.”

The bombing was followed by a series of evacuations throughout the city yesterday, including at the Arndale Shopping Centre, and a controlled explosion by police in the suburb of Fallowfield.

Ms Pemberton, who is studying at Manchester University, took her four-year-old daughter to school as normal in the morning, but said: “I picked her up early after the Fallowfield incident. She doesn't even know what's going on.”.

She said she was likely to avoid the city centre and large-scale events in the wake of the attack and had half-jokingly discussed with other Bermudians whether it was “time to go back to Bermuda”.

Andréa Smith, who lives in the neighbouring city of Liverpool, said she was due to model at Manchester Fashion Week yesterday but had sprained her foot in a bad fall.

“I was just about to tough it out and still go, as they said I can wear flats, but I think I'll stay ... in Liverpool,” she posted on the Bermudians in the UK Facebook page.

She later told this newspaper she decided not to take part in the fashion show “because of not only what happened last night but also today as they evacuated the Arndale Centre”.

Mancunian Nicola Flood, who lives in Bermuda, said her immediate thoughts when she heard the news were of her daughter, who lives in nearby Wrexham.

“She had friends who were at the concert and were thankfully OK,” Ms Flood said. “I was born in Manchester and I was watching the news most of the day. I grew up there and it makes it even more real. The Paris attacks were dreadful [but] when it happens in your home town, it just really drives it home to you.

“I was living in Manchester during the IRA attacks and it brings all that back. It's exactly the same level of cowardice; you can't fight an enemy you can't see.”

Michael Dunkley, the Premier, wrote to British Prime Minister Theresa May expressing Bermuda's “shock and horror” in the wake of the terrorist attack.

And last night, John Rankin, the Governor, said in a statement: “I am grateful to all those in Bermuda who have expressed their condolences following last night's terrorist attack in Manchester.

“As Prime Minister Theresa May has stated, this was an appalling targeting of innocent, defenceless children and young people. Together our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their families and friends at this terrible time.”

In a formal letter on behalf of the island, the Premier wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, those injured, and the entire community of Manchester during this very difficult time.

“What is even more devastating is that the loss of life involved young children who were simply enjoying an evening of fun and entertainment. How heartbreaking that it ended in such tragedy.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, we stand firmly in solidarity with the United Kingdom in condemning this senseless attack on freedom and democracy.”

Salman Abedi, 22, was named by police yesterday as the suspected suicide bomber responsible for setting off a homemade bomb in the foyer of the arena.

It is the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the July 7 bombings in 2005 in which 52 people were killed.

Mr Dunkley concluded his letter by pledging “Bermuda's unwavering support” to the UK as it faces “painful and difficult” days ahead in the wake of this incident.

He also wrote to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and to Mr Rankin, to convey Bermuda's condolences.

And he reminded the many Bermudians who are working, residing or studying in Britain, and in particular those in Manchester, that the Bermuda Government's London Office remains available to assist individuals who may have concerns about the attack.

Mr Dunkley added: “At all times we encourage Bermudians in the UK to remain vigilant of their surroundings. The London Office is available to assist Bermudians in the UK, and we urge you to utilise the office in the wake of last night's attack to seek guidance.”

The London Office can be reached at + 44 (0) 20 7518 9900 or londonoffice@gov.bm

Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last night (Photograph by Peter Byrne/PA/AP)

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Published May 24, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 24, 2017 at 8:56 am)

Bermudians in Manchester relive terror attack

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