Emergency services chiefs have apologised for their “wholly inadequate and totally ineffective” response to the Manchester Arena bombing, which claimed 22 lives – including a couple from York.
Their words came after the publication of a report which found one of those murdered would probably have survived but for inadequacies in the emergency response.
The victims on that terrible night in May 2017 included Angelika and Marcin Klis, a devoted couple from York who were waiting in the foyer to collect their daughters.
Manchester Arena Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders delivered a scathing report today (Thursday) on the response of the emergency services.
He said: “Significant aspects of the emergency response on 22nd May 2017 went wrong. This should not have happened.
“Some of what went wrong had serious and, in the case of John Atkinson, fatal consequences for those directly affected by the explosion.”
The police made a “significant” mistake by failing to declare a major incident until 1am, two and a half hours after the blast.
Sir John also criticised the time it took for a tactical/silver commander to arrive at the scene some 52 minutes after the explosion.
For the fire service, a decision to send fire appliances three miles away from the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing led to crews arriving more than two hours later.
And the North West Ambulance Service did not deploy ambulances to the Manchester Arena bombing until nearly 30 minutes after the blast, an inquiry report has found.
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Stephen Watson told a press conference the force’s failings were “significant”, adding: “We failed to plan effectively and the execution of that which was planned was simply not good enough.”
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Dave Russel, appeared to become emotional as he said the service’s response to the bombing will “forever be a matter of deep regret for our service”.
Mr Watson said: “I fully accept the findings of the chair, Sir John Saunders.
“Beyond the selflessness and professionalism of so many of our frontline staff, it is also clear that our co-ordination of the response to this atrocity was poor.
“Sadly GMPs failings were significant.
“We failed to plan effectively and the execution of that which was planned was simply not good enough.
“Our actions were substantially inadequate and fell short of what the public have every right to expect, and for this, I apologise unreservedly.”
Chief Constable of British Transport Police, Lucy D’Orsi, said their “preparation and planning was inadequate”, and she was “truly sorry” to all those affected.
She said: “Significant errors were made in the hours leading up to this horrendous attack and the aftermath.
“Our preparation and planning was inadequate.
“On behalf of everyone at British Transport Police, I am truly sorry.”
The last moments of devoted York couple
Customer services assistant Angelika Klis, 39, and taxi driver Marcin Klis, 42, from York were collecting their daughters Alexandra and Patrycia, aged 20 and 14, in the foyer when the bomb was detonated.
The couple, who met and fell in love in their native Poland, were said by their daughters to have “shared a deep bond”, were “very caring” and would plan a family day out every few weeks.
They stood with their arms around each other as they waited for the concert to finish.
At the time of the explosion they were four metres away.
Neither showed any signs of life and their bodies were covered with T-shirts and posters before a paramedic attached a label to them, like other victims, to identify they were deceased.
Mr Klis died of chest injuries and his partner from multiple injuries, which in both cases were said to be unsurvivable.