The first victim of the Manchester bombing has been named locally as 18-year-old Georgina Callander.
The teenager from Whittle-le-Woods in Lancashire, is one of 22 people reportedly killed after a lone male attacker detonated his explosive device in the foyer of Manchester Arena at around 10.30pm, where US pop star Ariana Grande had been performing.
Ardent fan Georgina had tweeted at the singer the day before the concert to exclaim: “SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW.”
Georgina’s death was initially reported on social media by friends who said they had heard the news from the girl’s mother. It is believed she died in hospital with her family at her side.
Pictures of Georgina had been circulated immediately after the blast, amid appeals for missing concertgoers to get in touch with their loved ones.
Runshaw College in Lancashire said: “It is with enormous sadness that it appears that one of the people who lost their lives in Monday’s Manchester attack was one of our students here at Runshaw College. Georgina Callander was a former Bishop Rawstorne pupil studying with us on the second year of her Health and Social Care course. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Georgina’s friends, family and all of those affected by this loss. We are offering all available support possible at this tragic time, including counselling with our dedicated student support team.”
Friends have been tweeting their sadness, with @rosegoldally stating: “My heart is physically aching she was always so happy when other people were happy.”
@rollngstyle added: “Georgina’s mum has just rang me to inform what has happened. I fucking love you Georgina you’ll fly high my absolute sunshine.”
Actress Karen David said: “No words... we met at #SBUK3 recently. This is beyond upsetting. Dearest, Georgina... RIP kind and beautiful lady.”
Witnesses reported hearing a “huge bang” at the venue shortly after the gig finished on Monday evening.
Footage posted on social media shows people fleeing the 21,000-capacity venue screaming and panicking, and the area around the arena was soon swamped with police and emergency services.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, said in a statement this morning:
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe at this stage the attack last night was conducted by one man.
“The priority is to establish if he was acting alone or as part of a network.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.
“We would ask people not to speculate on his details or share names.
“Terrorists will attempt to disrupt our lives and sow mistrust and fear in our communities.
“We have a long history here in Manchester of our communities standing together during difficult times.
“In the coming days we will be working very closely with community leaders to address any concerns or issues that our community may have.”