Lancashire schoolgirls were minutes from Manchester horror bomb blast

Two Burnley schoolgirls were just minutes away from the devastating bomb attack at the MEN arena last night.

Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, 10:48 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 8:51 pm
Rachel Dand, with her daughter Leah (right) and her friend Bella as they arrive at the concert last night just hours before the bomb blast

But in a miraculous twist of fate Leah Dand and Bella Whittaker, both 11, had left the arena 10 minutes before the suspected terror attack which has killed around 22 people, many of them children.

The girls, who are both year seven pupils at Blessed Trinity RC College, were taken to the concert as a treat by Leah's mum, Rachel Dand.

She said: "At the moment I can't stop crying and I am feeling extremely emotional this morning thinking how fortunate me and the girls are that we are not among the families that so tragically lost their lives.

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"The day is forever imprinted on our hearts for all the wrong reasons."

Thousands of gig-goers were packed into the venue to see American singer Ariana Grande when the explosion happened.

Multiple witnesses reported hearing "huge bangs" at the venue shortly after singer's gig finished at around 10.30pm on Monday evening.

Police have confirmed that the man responsible, thought to be a suicide bomber, died at the scene.

The area around the arena was swamped with police and emergency services and approach roads were cordoned off and those remain in place today.

Minutes later eyewitnesses described seeing people "running and screaming" from the arena, with some covered in blood.