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Journalism student caught up in ‘horrendous’ attack

Alicia HattersleyA journalism student who witnessed the Manchester terrorist attack says she has not slept since the “horrendous” atrocity.

Alicia Hattersley, left, who studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, was in the audience at the Ariana Grande concert when 22 people died at he hands of a suicide bomber.

In a first-person piece for the Manchester Evening News recalling the Manchester Arena tragedy, 21-year-old Alicia said she heard a “massive bang” – describing it as The loudest noise I have ever heard in my life”.

She recalled the “sheer panic” of the aftermath, with young girls tumbling down the stairs to get away from the explosion and screaming “I’ve lost my mummy”.

Alicia, who had attended the concert in order to review it for the MMU journalism course’s news website Northern Quota, said: “There were children crying and parents screaming that they had lost their family. We ran down the flights of stairs which felt like hundreds of flights but it was also so quick, we could see from the windows that below us people were running for their lives out of the main Arena entrance.

“The scene was chaos. I have never seen or heard anything like it. There were people screaming and sheer panic because nobody knew what the full extent was or what was happening.

“You could see the Arena staff and stewards and security had no idea what was happening – there was no announcement, just screaming. Everyone was running for their lives.”

She added: “What I saw was horrendous and it will stay with me forever – the bang and screaming keeps replaying in my head, I’ve not slept, just been up all night watching the news trying to determine the full extent of this.

“It was a huge explosion but I am so shocked and keep shaking and crying. It won’t sink in how many lives have been lost. I did not think it would be this many. My heart goes out to those who have died been injured or lost their family.”

Other MMU students worked through the night to cover the tragedy for Northern Quota.

Journalism tutor Liz Hannaford said: “She was approached by other news organisations and staff from the journalism department supported her as she dealt with these interview requests whilst coming to terms with her own traumatic experience.

“Back in our newsroom, we immediately set up a live blog to cover the fast-moving events and to complement the articles that our students were offering to write. We have an intern, Miles Casey – a recent graduate from our MA Multimedia Journalism programme – who runs our news website. He did an amazing job keeping on top of a rapidly developing story and using his contacts and social media skills to find eyewitnesses from around the city to keep our coverage original.

“Other students stayed in the city centre for hours sending us photos, videos, interviews. In the evening, students and staff were at the vigil, live streaming via Facebook Live as well as sending images and interviews. Our intern didn’t get home until 2am having gone straight from the vigil to report on a charity gig in honour of the victims.

“We were immensely proud of our students’ professionalism and willingness to give up their time to report on such a challenging story. Having dedicated staff with recent journalism experience and multimedia skills to support and guide the students through the day’s coverage was invaluable. We hope those students found it a rewarding experience even though it touched all of them in such a painful way.”