When the bomb went off, Saffie Rose Roussos, 8, her mother and her older sister were heading out of Manchester Arena, among hundreds of concertgoers scrambling for Ariana Grande souvenirs before reaching the exits.
Lisa Roussos and Saffie's sister, Ashlee Bromwich, both injured by shrapnel, were taken to separate hospitals. But as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning, no one could find Saffie.
Kate Tinsley, whose daughter is best friends with Saffie and attended the same primary school, posted on Facebook that there had been no word about the girl's whereabouts, according to Metro. “Everybody is worried, the whole village. Everybody is in bits waiting for news, just some news that she's okay, she's alive.”
Saffie's picture joined the social media river of missing children whose loved ones tried to locate them with the hashtag #ManchesterMissing. Amplifying fears: reports from police that children were among the dead.
Authorities confirmed Saffie's death Tuesday morning. She was believed to be the youngest victim of the suicide bomber. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins named the suspected attacker as Salman Abedi, 22, but did not give details, according to The Washington Post's Griff Witte and Karla Adam.
The Islamic State asserted responsibility, saying that one of its “soldiers” targeted the arena, which was full of children and teens. Authorities were still trying to corroborate those claims as they investigated the worst terrorist attack on British soil in a dozen years.
Manchester Arena seats 21,000 people and is one of Europe's largest indoor venues. The bomber struck a crowd that had bottlenecked at the exits.
First, people tried to flee. Later, parents and their children searched for one another amid the devastation.
“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said.
Saffie's family members couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. The Telegraph reported that they run a fish-and-chip shop in Leyland, about 30 miles northwest of Manchester.
In an emailed statement, Chris Upton, the head teacher at Tarleton Community Primary School, said the learning community was still coming to terms with Saffie's death.
“The thought that anyone could go out to a concert and not come home is heartbreaking,” he said in a statement.
“Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair.”
Upton said school officials had called in specialists to counsel students and staff members.
“We are a tight-knit school and wider community and will give each other the support that we need at this difficult time.”