Czech student at Manchester concert: We were afraid there was more to come

Helpers attend to injured people inside the Manchester Arena, photo: CTK

The terror attack in Manchester dominated news coverage in the Czech Republic on Tuesday with politicians and ordinary people expressing shock and condolences to the families of the victims. The Czech Foreign Ministry released an emergency help line for people who have friends and relatives in Great Britain and the Interior Ministry said security would be tightened at concerts and other events with a bigger congregation of people.

Helpers attend to injured people inside the Manchester Arena,  photo: CTK
Czech leaders joined the wave of international condemnation of the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka responded at a press briefing early on Tuesday.

“We have all been following the terrible news from Manchester and on behalf of the Czech government I want to condemn this atrocity in the strongest possible terms. I want to express my condolences to the victims and their families and our solidarity with the government and the people of Great Britain.”

Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek responded on Twitter, saying that his thoughts were with the victims and their families. This terrible act of violence must not go unpunished, he said. Similar reactions have come from across the political spectrum. Prague City Hall announced that in solidarity with Manchester and the people of Great Britain, Prague’s Petrin Tower would be lit up with the British national colours on Wednesday night. “The attack in Manchester is a terrible and cowardly act, all the more so that it was directed against children. It is vital for Europe to stand united, to show strength and to make it clear that we will not be cowed by religious fanatics“ Prague councilor Jan Wolf said in a statement for the press.

Armed police work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue,  photo: CTK
Czech Radio brought an interview with Nikola Trochtova, a Czech student in Manchester, who attended the concert. She recalled the moments immediately following the blast.

“We were afraid. We feared there could be more to come and didn’t know what to do. There was panic everywhere, people were screaming, running around looking for loved ones, there were children on their own crying. In the end we managed to get to an exit and escape out into the street. We could see the ambulances coming and armed police running in and we tried to get as far away as possible because we didn’t know if it was over or not. “

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec appeared on public radio and television to dispel concern in the wake of the incident, assuring the public that there was no indication of an imminent terror attack in the Czech Republic. The minister said that although there was no reason to upgrade the existing level 1 security alert in the country, special measures would be taken around selected sites and the police would beef up its presence at all places where there was a bigger congregation of people.

Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester,  photo: CTK
“There is a concert at Prague’s O2 Arena on Tuesday night and a series of other concerts and big cultural events – not just in Prague, but around the country which we are paying special attention to. We have been cooperating with the organizers of such events to increase security as far as possible and we will now increase the number of officers present at them.”

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no information that Czechs may have died or been injured in the Manchester attack, releasing a helpline for those who have family and friends in Great Britain (Help line operated by Czech embassy in London: 0044 77 6968 2442).