A first aider has tearfully described the moment he battled in vain to save the youngest victim of the Manchester terror attack.
Saffie, eight, was close to the foyer when bomber Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device which killed 22 people – including children.
Forklift truck driver Paul Reid, 43, had been at the Ariana Grande concert and sprinted back into Manchester Arena after hearing the bomb go off.
Mr Reid picked up the dying girl, from Tarleton, Lancashire, who called out for her mother and he tried to calm her down during the chaos on Monday night.
He has described the ‘devastating’ moment he saw people’s bodies strewn across the floor just inside the doors of the 21-000 capacity venue.
Speaking through tears, Mr Reid, from Darlaston, West Midlands, told The Sun:
‘She was a dying little girl and she just wanted her mum. It was devastating
Mr Reid, who has had first aid training, added: ‘I ran back up the stairs and I was actually looking for a terrorist. I knew it had been a bomb.
‘People were shouting, running and screaming. I will never forget the sounds. Inside the hall was absolute chaos. There were people lying all over the place.
‘I looked at my phone, it was 10.32. I dialled 999 and was telling the woman, “Just send everything and anybody to the Manchester Arena, a big thing has happened”
‘I must have been one of the first callers because it was seconds after the bomb went off.
‘There were people dead everywhere and people running in a panic towards the train station.’
Mr Reid added:
‘I saw the little girl was conscious and I said, “What’s your name?”‘I thought she said Sophie. When I asked her how old she was she said she was eight.’I wanted to keep her talking and asked her if she had enjoyed the concert but then I realised she was having difficulty breathing.’She said “where’s my mum?” I said to her “I don’t know but we are going to find her in a minute. Don’t worry, we are going to sort it out. You are going to be all right”.’
He later wept while describing seeing a teenage girl who was dying just a few feet away from him on the floor.
Mr Reid added: ‘She kept drifting into unconsciousness. I cannot bear to think about it. Then she started shivering and told me she felt cold. I took my coat off and put it over her but she was still shaking a bit.’
He then made a stretcher with police officers using an advertising board and placed the youngster on it.She was then placed in ambulance and he said that he will ‘never forget her’.