Burnley sisters' terror tragedy ordeal

Police officers outside the Manchester Arena
Police officers outside the Manchester Arena

A devastated young singer from Burnley has spoken of her shock at being seconds from tragedy at the Manchester Arena terror attack with her teenage sister.

Abi Howard (27) from Lowerhouse was at the Ariana Grande pop concert with her 13-year-old sister Georgia Cunningham when the blast detonated, killing 22 people.

Professional singer and dancer Abi had bought the tickets as a Christmas present for Blessed Trinity student Georgia who is a big fan of the American singer, but joy turned to despair when the pair were making their way out of the venue.

Abi told the Burnley Express: "Georgia is a massive of Ariana Grande and so I decided to buy her tickets as a Christmas present. It seems strange to think now but I had an uneasy feeling all the way through the concert and decided to leave a little early.

"We had made our way down the steps and were in the foyer when there was this huge bang. It was so loud, I thought a plane had gone into the building.

"The ground shook and then there was just sheer panic. All of a sudden lots of people just came running towards us screaming. I grabbed Georgia and we just ran.

"It was the most frightening experience of our lives. Georgia was really upset, she kept saying we're not going to get out and that she felt sick from running. People were saying they'd heard gunshots and that they'd been splattered with blood."

Abi, who is training to be an air hostess, said her cabin crew experience took over as she desperately searched for an exit.

The pair were due to be picked up outside by their mother Michelle and boyfriend Lee, but instead sprinted in sheer panic up Bury New Road to a nearby McDonald's.

"I couldn't get any signal on my phone to contact my mum but I just knew we had to get as far away as possible," Abi added.

"People were just hiding wherever they could. It was mainly young girls and their parents. It was horrific."

Abi and Georgia eventually managed to contact their mother who picked them up from McDonald's shortly after.

Although it is not known at this stage whether the attacker had been in the venue for the concert, Abi said she was shocked at how lax security was going into the venue.

She added: "I'm a big music fan and I've been to a lot of concerts but security was very lax going in. They didn't check my bag or anything. It was very half-hearted.

"I feel so lucky to be safe, my heart goes out to those poor children who have lost their lives. It was absolutely awful."

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