Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi carried a rucksack packed with a “massive number” of small metal objects which “flew through the air at high velocity in all directions” when detonated, a court has heard.
The inquests into the deaths of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack were told the improvised explosive device contained in the bag he was carrying on his back appeared to be “designed to kill and maim indiscriminately the largest number of innocent people”.
Senior coroner for Manchester Nigel Meadows opened the inquests this morning as brief summaries to the background circumstances of each of the fatalities was outlined.
The 22 victims died when Abedi detonated a device as concert-goers began leaving a show by US singer Ariana Grande on May 22.
They included four people from Lancashire - Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, from Leyland, Georgina Callander, 18, from Tarleton, Ribble Valley mum-of-three Michelle Kiss, 45, and Blackpool school receptionist Jane Tweddle, 51
None of the families of the deceased attended the hearing at Manchester Civil Justice, which lasted just short of a hour, and was preceded by a minute’s silence for the victims, bereaved, injured and those affected by the bombing on May 22 and also the London Bridge atrocity.
A photograph of each of the victims was shown on a large screen along with their dates of birth and then a map which pinpointed Abedi, 22, in the middle of the large foyer area of the indoor arena and where each person was when he detonated the device.
The nearest victim was just five yards from Abedi, while the furthest away was 20 metres.
Nineteen of the concert-goers died at the scene while three - including eight-year-old Saffie - were rushed to hospital, but pronounced dead shortly afterwards, the inquests were told.
Detective Superintendent Jonathan Chadwick, the senior identification manager for the incident, told the hearing: “At 10.31pm on May 22 2017 a man subsequently identified as Salman Ramadan Abedi detected an improvised explosive device in the Manchester Arena complex in Manchester city centre.
“The device had been contained in a rucksack he was carrying on his back.
“It was packed with a massive number of small metal objects which on detonation flew through the air at high velocity in all directions.
“It appears it was designed to kill and maim indiscriminately the largest number of innocent people.”
He added that at the time of the explosion, the foyer near Victoria Station was full of people making their way out following the performance by Ariana Grande.
A total of 220 people received medical treatment as a result of the blast, said Mr Chadwick.
A number of those have life-changing injuries and a small number remain critically ill.
Updating the investigation by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, he said 21 people had been arrested in connection with the attack, of which 18 have been released and three remain in custody.
He said 32 addresses had been searched and 10 were still under police control.