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Manchester Arena Inquiry: Youngest victim of Ariana Grande concert attack asked ‘am I going to die?’

The youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing asked “am I going to die?” as she was taken to hospital, the inquiry has been told.

Saffie-Rose Roussos, eight, reached hospital 52 minutes after the explosion after she was carried out of the foyer where the bomb had gone off on a makeshift stretcher and a police officer flagged down a passing ambulance, the inquiry heard.

Some experts believe Saffie could have survived if she had been taken to hospital more quickly, but there is a “difference of opinion”, Sophie Cartwright QC, for the inquiry, said.

Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb in the arena foyer following an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

Paul Reid, a member of the public who had been selling posters, was at Saffie’s side for 31 minutes, urging her to “stay with me” and “come on princess” as he carried her out, with the help of PC Leon McLaughlin and DC Mark Haviland.

She told him she was eight years old and he reassured her after she asked for her mother, Ms Cartwright said.

“She asked him what had happened. He knew her injuries were serious, so he stayed with her,” she added.

She was transferred onto an advertising hoarding and carried out of the City Room foyer as one person said, “where are the ambulances?” and someone else replied: “We haven’t got any ambulances.”

Off-duty nurse Bethany Crook, who had been at the concert with her daughter, said the hoarding was “by no means an appropriate stretcher to move a casualty”.

One of the officers then waved down a passing ambulance.

Paramedic Gillian Yates and emergency technician Gemma Littler were only passing the arena because they were on their way to a rendezvous point a mile away.

The paramedics found Saffie lying on a sign with black and white lettering and Ms Yates said in a statement: “I was told she was eight but she looked younger. She had long dark hair.

“I looked at her and instantly knew she was critically injured.

“She was able to speak to me and said to me, ‘am I going to die?’ I obviously reassured her and tried to comfort her as best as I could.”

After 10 minutes of treatment, they set off for Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, arriving at 11.23pm, 52 minutes after the explosion and the first casualty to arrive.

Saffie’s mother, Lisa, had also been injured in the blast, along with her sister Ashlee.

The journey took six minutes, but by the time they arrived Saffie was quiet and no longer making any noise, the inquiry heard. She was declared dead at 11.40pm.

Saffie’s dad Andrew Roussos told the inquiry: “As a human being and a father, I cannot live with myself if I do not voice this.

“The response on that night was shameful and inadequate. Everyone in the City Room was let down and the people that excuse it should feel shame.”

He said the response was a “disgrace to everyone involved and to this country, to the people helping and to the people dying”.

The inquiry continues.



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