The Manchester Arena was packed on Monday night with pop fans eager to hear Ariana Grande perform. Her songs are bubblegum pop, so picture the crowd: kids and their parents, teenagers with their friends, fans looking for a cheerful night out.
At the end of the concert, an explosion struck near the arena. The blast killed at least 22 people and injured more than 50.
Young women — including very young girls — are Grande’s core fan base. And authorities confirmed that children were among the dead, which was quickly apparent as friends, family and schools began reporting the names of some of those victims.
The first to be named was an 18-year-old woman. The second, an 8-year-old girl.
Saffie Rose Roussos, the 8-year-old, was attending the concert with her mother and sister, The Guardian reports.
Saffie was initially identified as missing after the attack. Her photo was circulated online by friends of the family who knew that Saffie’s mother and sister had been hospitalized, but couldn’t find Saffie, according to Metro.
Now her death has been confirmed by the headmaster of her school, Chris Upton, who told the Guardian Saffie was “simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly.”
An 18-year-old college student, Georgina Callander, was also named as a victim.
Callander was studying health and social care at Runshaw College, which confirmed her death on Facebook.
Callander had a buoyant social media presence, celebrating the singers, actors and shows that she followed passionately, and rejoicing over school achievements like finishing a long paper.
She often sought photos with celebrities — in fact, took a picture with Ariana Grande two years ago. Her caption read in part, “I HUGGED HER SO TIGHT AND SHE SAID SHE LOVED MY BOW.”
On Sunday, she tweeted at Grande, “SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU TOMORROW.”
A third victim has been identified as John Atkinson, according to the Manchester Evening News. His age has been reported as 26 and 28.
Friends called him “a beautiful soul” and “an amazing young man,” the newspaper reports.
Many of the people injured in the attack were still receiving treatment at area hospitals.
A dozen children were among those who were hospitalized, a director of an ambulance service tells The Guardian.