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Manchester bomber planned ‘to kill largest number of innocents’, inquest told

Inquests into the deaths of the 22 victims were opened and adjourned until November.

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 appeared to be “designed to kill and maim indiscriminately the largest number of innocent people”.

A map shown during a hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre suggested the nearest victim, 14-year-old Cheshire schoolgirl Nell Jones – who was at her first pop concert – was just five yards from Abedi, while the furthest was school receptionist Jane Tweddle, 51, some 20 metres away.

Manchester attack, updated key events and locations. See story POLICE Explosion. Editable files available from PA Graphics

Senior coroner for Manchester Nigel Meadows opened the inquests as brief summaries to the background circumstances of each of the fatalities was outlined.

None of the families of the deceased attended the hearing, which lasted just short of an 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 the 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.

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Fans ahead of the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack (Kevin Mazur for One Love Manches/PA)

Nineteen of the concert-goers died at the scene while three – including the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie Roussos – 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 detonated 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.”

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Tributes to victims of the Manchester concert bomb attack in Albert Square (Danny Lawson/PA)

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, 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, of whom 18 have been released and three remain in custody.

He said 32 addresses had been searched and 10 were still under police control.

Each of the 22 inquests was opened and adjourned until November 24 for pre-inquest review hearings.

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