Latvian woman describes aftermath of Manchester blast

Take note – story published 6 years ago

Several Latvian citizens, including teenagers, were at the concert venue in Manchester, northern England where a suspected terrorist attack was perpetrated on May 22. Local Latvian Jana Matulone related the scene she witnessed as she went to bring her daughter home from the concert, reported Latvian Radio.

Manchester is home to a sizable Latvian diaspora, with the Latvians in Manchester Facebook group boasting more than 1,200 members. 

Jana Matulone has been living there for some eleven years with her daughter Katrīna.

'They were all crying'

"I had bought her a ticket a few months ago. [Katrīna] was so delighted to be able to go there. I was ill yesterday and couldn't take her to the concert. My niece took her," said Jana.

She had arranged to meet her daughter at 10.30 p.m. by the venue, but as Jana drove there she was overtaken by a police car.

"Everyone was running to the side. I realized something's not right. I wanted to call her and the phone didn't work. I was shocked," she said.

"I was in a panic - how can I find my child in an arena of 30 thousand people? I hopped out of the car and screamed, 'Katrīna!'" said Jana.

"There was a sea of people. They were all crying. They were all in abject shock. Girls had their knees bruised from falling and getting on their feet again. [..] I saw my daughter Katrīna and thought, 'Thank God, everything is alright!'" related the girl's mother.

Jana's daughter has an exam on Tuesday. As she went to school she was met by supportive staff, including psychologists. 

The daughter: it seemed there's blood all around

Following the first blast Katrīna had thought it had been the sound of the balloons popping but then someone screamed it's a bomb.

"The crowd dispersed. Only four people had remained there and they died there instantly. It was tragic. She says - it seemed there's blood all around. Afterwards she heard shots. And then the smell of gas and smoke. Then the door was blocked and she remained inside," Jana related what her daughter told her.

"That's what's most tragic. She realized she was trapped inside the arena and couldn't get out. And that person [the perpetrator] was there and had watched the concert and seen all the people up close. [My daughter] doesn't understand why people do things like that," said Jana.

Jana also thanked the the rescue services and supportive school staff for their help. "I went to the school. Everyone's talking about it there and they're very supportive, [asking] whether we need any help," she said.

Local councilor: it's horrible

"It's horrible. People are feeling the events deeply and looking after one another. Manchester is a very multi-cultural city and it will deal with the situation," said Dzidra Noor, a local councilor and the founder of the Manchester Latvian Society.

As reported, 22 people are known to have died with dozens injured after an explosion outside a concert venue in Manchester.

Latvian officials have offered condolences while the Latvian Embassy in the UK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have set up telephone hotlines. However, initial indications are that no Latvians are among the victims, said Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

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