24 May 2017

Thousands flock to vigil at Manchester's Albert Square

8:28 am on 24 May 2017

Thousands of people have gathered at a vigil in Albert Square to remember people who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena attack.

People attending a vigil at Albert Square in Manchester hold a sign 'Peace + Love Manchester.

People attending a vigil at Albert Square in Manchester hold a sign 'Peace + Love Manchester. Photo: AFP

Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber struck at an Ariana Grande gig on Monday night.

The suspected attacker has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

A minute's silence was held as crowds spilled out on to nearby roads.

Lord mayor of Manchester Eddy Newman began the vigil by thanking emergency services, prompting huge applause.

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People light candles at the Manchester vigil. Photo: AFP

"The people of Manchester will remember the victims forever and we will defy the terrorists by working together to create cohesive, diverse communities that are stronger together," he said.

"We are the many, they are the few."

People attending a vigil at Albert Square in Manchester following the attack on Manchester Arena.

Thousands of people attending the vigil at Albert Square. Photo: AFP

Bishop of Manchester David Walker lit a candle and addressed the crowd at the vigil, which began at 6pm.

"We will pull through the event sof last night because we will stand together. Stand together whatever our background, whatever our religion, whatever our beliefs or our politics, we will stand together to say this city is greater than the forces that it aligned itself against," Mr Walker said.

Senior figures including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Speaker John Bercow joined Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on stage.

Mr Burnham said it was a time for the city to stand together.

"We won't let this act of extremism divide us one from another. There are those who would like to make it all the responsibility of the muslim community, well, I'm afraid that is wrong. This is an act of extremism and people need to remember that at all times."

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said he was heartened to hear the acts of kindness from emergency service workers and normal people.

People congregate to attend a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester following the attack at Manchester Arena.

People congregate at the vigil at Albert Square. Photo: AFP

He said: "The people of Greater Manchester showed the people of the world how much we care, how much we care about one another, and how much we care for those in need."

He also thanked "the rest of the world for holding us in their thoughts".

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins speaks during the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester.

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins speaks during the vigil in Albert Square in Manchester. Photo: AFP

Tony Lloyd, former Police and Crime Commissioner and interim mayor for Greater Manchester, said: "We're not going to accept evil acts dividing us.

"You can see throngs of people have come out to pay their respects... but in the end it's the resolution that says 'we're not prepared to be divided'."

Mr Lloyd said "we pride ourselves on our diversity" and that diversity could not be "challenged by one evil individual".

"We'll get through this because that is the spirit of Manchester."

Members of the Manchester Sikh Community were providing free refreshment, having arrived in Albert Square singing and receiving a round of applause.

Members of Manchester's Sikh community carry "I love MCR" banners as they arrive to attend the vigil following the attack at Manchester Arena.

Members of Manchester's Sikh community carry "I love MCR" banners as they arrive to attend the vigil following the attack at Manchester Arena. Photo: AFP

They said they will be giving out food "to help the city at a time when things are bad".

New Zealander Sarah Illingworth has lived in Manchester for the last three years and said the attack was close to home, literally - she lives five minutes from the arena where the concert was held.

She said it was "quite lovely" to see the whole community united for the vigil.

"It had a really Mancunian feel to it, the energy was mostly positive and the people were just there to show support"

Lu Bowen, 40, brought flowers to lay as a mark of respect, and said it has been a "horrific" day but said she wanted to show a sense of "solidarity and commitment that Manchester always has".

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People hold placards reading 'I love Manchester' in a commemoration ceremony for victims of the Manchester Arena attack. Photo: AFP

Standing alongside her teenage daughter Lucy, she said: "We watched it all unfold last night.

"When the chips are down, Manchester always pulls together."

Roads around Albert Square were set to be closed from 5pm until about 7pm.

Vigils were also held in cities across the UK, including in Belfast and Glasgow where people held posters which said: "We stand together. Manchester."

- BBC

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