A senior coroner praised the ‘truly unbelievable dignity and strength’ of bereaved families after he formerly (sic) opened inquests into the deaths of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena bomb atrocity .
A poignant minute’s silence was held in the courtroom at Manchester Civil Justice Centre before the hearing started.
Manchester coroner Nigel Meadows sat alongside fellow corners Jennifer Leeming and Joanne Kearsley and was told brief identification details of the 22 who lost their lives in the May 22 terror attack. Each inquest was then adjourned until November 24, when pre-inquest review hearings will begin.
He revealed that he has visited the scene just outside the Arena several times, including just hours after the attack, and described witnessing a scene of ‘devastation’.
Inquests were opened for each victim in turn and causes of their deaths given.
Det Supt Jonathan Chadwick, who was appointed as senior identification manager, read out the names, ages and occupations of all those killed. He went on to reveal the identification processes used for each victim and revealed that formal hearings of the Identification Commission were held ahead of bodies being released.
Those killed were initially identified by their dental records, fingerprints and DNA, DS Jonathan Chadwick told the inquests on Friday. Their identities were then confirmed by other identifying features such as birthmarks, as well as watches, bank cards and distinctive clothing. Elaine McIver, 43, a police officer from Cheshire, who died from chest injuries, was carrying her police warrant card, the court heard.
Det Supt Chadwick gave a brief background to the attack, saying at 10.31pm on May 22 a man later identified as Salman Abedi detonated an ‘improvised explosive device’. Abedi, 22, detonated the bomb in the middle of the City Rooms exit, where the main box office is located. This large space, which leads to Victoria station, is 10 metres high, 47 metres long and 34 metres wide. The nearest victim was just five yardshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/09/manchester-bomb-made-kill-many-possible-inquest-hears/ from Abedi...the force of the bomb ... was strong enough to kill people at least 20 metres from the blast, an inquest has heard.
He told the hearing that the device was in a rucksack he was carrying and contained a ‘massive number’ of small metal objects which flew through the air at ‘a high velocity’. The attack, he said, was ‘designed to kill and maim indiscriminately’. The hearing was told that 19 people died at the scene and three others later in hospital.
The court, sitting at the Manchester civil justice centre, was shown diagrams of the arena, with coloured circles showing where each person died. Abedi was allocated a red dot. His victims, aged from eight to 51, were given pink dots. A circle of pink dots formed a ring around the red, with others scattered in the furthest corners of the foyer.
A total of 221 people received medical care, Det Supt Chadwick said. Many suffered life-changing injuries and a ‘small number’ remain critically ill in hospital, the court heard.
He went on to confirm the status of the police investigation. A total of 21 arrests have been made and searches carried out at 32 addresses. Of those held, three people remain in custody.
Det Supt Chadwick said at each of the inquest openings: “There is still a very substantial police investigation ongoing which will take some time to complete.”
The inquest into the death of murderer Salman Abedi meanwhile is expected to be opened then adjourned at a later date. It will be dealt with separately to the inquests of the victims.
Of the 22 killed in the atrocity, six were schoolgirls – eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, from Tarleton, near Preston, Olivia Campbell-Hardy, 15, from Bury, Nell Jones, 14, from Goostrey, Megan Hurley, 15, from Halewood, Merseyside, Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from the Scottish island of Barra, and Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, from Leeds.
Four students were also killed – Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Allen-Curry, 19, from South Shields, Courtney Boyle, 19, from Gateshead and Georgina Callander, 18, from Chorley.