Families from across the Fylde coast were caught up in the confusion and panic after a suicide bomber set off the device that killed 22 people.
They were at Manchester Arena to see a performance by US superstar Ariana Grande, a favourite with youngsters, and were caught up in the blast’s aftermath.
The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 attacks in 2005.
A lone bomber detonated a homemade device packed with nuts and bolts in the foyer of the Arena as thousands of people left the concert at around 10.30pm yesterday.
The attacker has not been officially named but investigators believe they know his identity.
The first arrest was made in connection with the inquiry earlier today, with a 23-year-old man in police custody.
Stacey Wright, 24, from South Shore, reported hearing a huge ‘bang’ shortly after Ariana Grande left the stage.
The mum-of-two, whose oldest daughter Scarlette turns seven today, said: “I was just about to go to the toilet when we heard a really loud bang.
“At first it was pure shock and then something came over me. Everyone was running.”
Stacey ran through a fire exit and was unharmed, though badly shaken. She said smoke poured from the building after the suicide bomber detonated his device.
Speaking as she made her way home on a coach with 10 other passengers, the student, whose youngster daughter Sophia is three, said: “It shook my whole body.
“I just want to get home to my daughters. I can’t begin to tell you how I feel.”
Sara Beardall said her 10-year-old daughter Erin, who was given tickets to the sell-out concert for Christmas, screamed in terror: “The terrorists are here for us and we are going to die.”
Sara, 43, who also lives with her husband Paul off Waterloo Road in South Shore, said she pulled the youngster to safety from the venue, along with several other ‘hysterical’ girls who had frozen in fear.
“I have never seen so many frightened faces,” she added. “I stopped traffic and got as many over the road as I could.
“We got off very lightly. Because we got out there quite quickly, Erin was not exposed to anybody injured or anything.
“I’m very grateful, very sad, very angry.”
Lytham mum Tracy Ingham, 46, described the bomb’s aftermath as ‘chaos’. She was at the concert with her 13-year-old daughter Lexie.
“She’d finished the show but sometimes there’s a second encore,” she said.
“There was a bang. A thud. People weren’t sure what was happening. We didn’t understand. At first we thought it might be part of the show.
“Then I felt the floor vibrate and people who had been in that area came running back into the arena screaming.”
Gail Riedel, 46, was waiting outside the arena for her daughters, Grace, 13, Maddie, 16, and Ella, 18, and their friend Raine Walsh, 13, when the bomb went off.
She said: “I was sat in the car outside when Grace called me screaming down the phone. She thought there was a gunshot.
“Grace had gotten separated from her sisters. I said, ‘You just need to get out as soon as possible’. Then I called her sisters and luckily they managed to find each other.
“At first I didn’t see anyone looking upset or distraught, but as it went on there were a lot of people running out crying.”
Gail, who lives in Bispham, was reunited with her daughters within 10 minutes of the explosion.
But she said: “The arena went totally silent for a minute and then it was just chaos. People were shouting to get out of the arena. I was terrified. We’re all in shock.
“As we were driving back to Blackpool I could see sirens on the motorway constantly. When we found out there were fatalities we realised just how close they were to what happened.
“But for the grace of God it could have been my girls. We are the lucky ones.”
Raine’s mum Mandy Cunliffe-Lockett, 49, said: “The first we heard about it was from a friend who posted on Facebook.
“It was a very frightening experience.
“We were very, very lucky because we found out she was safe almost right away. They had some good seats near the front so they were near an exit.
“They have had a sleepless night, and so have we.
“She said they heard what they thought was a balloon popping and then she realised it was something quite serious.”
Emma Johnson from Kirkham was close to the foyer at the time of the explosion.
Speaking to BBC Five Live, she described the nightmare scene in the moments immediately after the blast.
She said: “There were just people screaming where is my child, my children, I’ve got to get to my children.
“They knew there was security to get into the arena but there was nothing to get into the foyer.
“It happened so quickly.
“My heart goes out to everyone killed.”
Emma said she was haunted by one particular image from the scene.
She said: “It was the worst experience. You see this kind of thing on the TV and think how awful, how terrible.
“All I could think about was the poor families.
“When I close my eyes I see a poor girl calling for her mum.
“Her hair was in a pool of blood and her husband was trying to bring her round.”
David Broadbent, AFC Fylde’s new commercial manager, said his wife, her sister, and niece were at the show but ‘thankfully all are safe’.
And resort photographer Aaron Parfitt tweeted: “Just got home. Me and Luke are safe, we never want to witness or hear what we seen tonight, heartbroken. RIP”