Belfast Telegraph

Manchester attack: Northern Ireland student Niamh Woods working in arena missed death by seconds

By Aaron Tinney

A traumatised Northern Ireland teenager has revealed how her life was saved by deciding not to take a trip to the toilet - 10 seconds before the Manchester Arena suicide bomb killed 22 people.

Bar worker Niamh Woods (19) was counting takings at the venue in a secure room just before Salman Abedi blew himself up at the end of singer Ariana Grande's show on Monday night.

Seconds before 22-year-old Abedi's cowardly attack, Niamh was desperate to take a toilet break.

But when she saw through the window of the security room there was a queue for the ladies', she decided to stay put and wait until people had finished.

If she had decided to line up at the toilet, it is almost certain she would have died in the nail bomb blast.

Niamh and her co-workers stayed locked in the security room when the explosion turned the arena into chaos.

Niamh is now home in Londonderry with parents Bernie and Sean, who had to wait a torturous two hours after the bombing to hear their daughter was alive.

Bernie told the Belfast Telegraph: "She is in bits. If you look at her, she just cries.

"She told me she feels so lucky to be alive as she knows if she had gone out to the toilet from the room where she was locked, she could be dead.

"Niamh told me she could see through the glass of the security room there was a queue for the toilet about 10 seconds before the bomb went off and she decided not to go.

"Then the bomb went off and she had to escape, leaving all her belongings behind."

Niamh was too upset to talk last night, and her mother said she needed to sleep off the shock of her near-death experience.

Bernie added: "Sean and I are just so glad to have her home safe."

Sean is also recovering from the trauma of hearing his daughter had been caught up in the carnage, which happened just after 10.30pm on Monday.

He paid for a flight to get Niamh home to Derry from Manchester.

Niamh, who is in her first year of a forensic psychology degree at Manchester University, eventually managed to contact her parents through a flatmate.

Her belongings, like those of many MEN Arena workers, including her wallet, are still in staff lockers.

Bernie added: "She just had to get out of that place. She heard the bomb go off and got out. She's come home with no money, no phone and no keys, just her."

Niamh's dad has told how Niamh and her co-workers witnessed the horrific aftermath of the bomb from their secure room.

He said: "They saw mummies and daddies running up the corridor and kicking and hammering at the door to try and get out of the way, with blood over their faces and clothes.

"It was quite traumatic for them.

"We see things like this on TV every other day and we all have the conversation about it, saying how terrible it is, but that is just words. It doesn't actually mean anything until it actually comes home to yourself."

Sean told about the moment he first spoke to his daughter after the bomb: "We just collapsed at that stage. It was the prospect of it. She could have been maimed or killed. Her words to me last night were: 'Daddy, please get me home'."

Belfast Telegraph

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