The Old Trafford football stadium was evacuated Sunday prior to a Premier League game between Manchester United and Bournemouth after a suspicious package was found within the stadium, officials say. The game was abandoned as a result.
The game was delayed for about 45 minutes before authorities determined the game would be cancelled. The 75,000 fans were then evacuated from the stadium.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bomb Disposal Experts Detonated the Package in a ‘Controlled Explosion’
The Greater Manchester Police tweeted that a controlled explosion was carried out within the stadium by bomb disposal experts.
In a later tweet, the Greater Manchester Police said, “Bomb disposal experts carried out controlled explosion at Old Trafford on what is described as incredibly lifelike explosive device… Full assessment now concluded and found device wasn’t viable. A full search of the stadium is ongoing. Full update to follow.”
Police previously said in a statement that the Army Bomb Disposal Unit were at the scene assisting with police. Photos from the scene showed several police officers with dogs searching the stadium. Police have not yet said if the device was dangerous or if it was detonated only as a precaution.
2. The Device Was Reportedly Found in a Bathroom & Included a Mobile Phone & Wires Attached to a Pipe
Several media sources have said the suspicious package was found inside a bathroom. The reports state that the package included a phone and wires, and was strapped to a pipe.
Those reports have not been confirmed by police.
3. Fans Were First Told to Stay in Their Seats, But Were Then Asked to Leave the Stadium
Initial announcements told fans to stay in their seats, but fans were then told to leave the stadium. Videos show the thousands of fans leaving Old Trafford:
The incident began about 20 minutes before the game was supposed to start, according to the BBC. An “operation red code” alert was heard over the stadium’s speakers while players were warming up.
“Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the north-west quadrant of the ground, the match has been abandoned for today on police advice,” Manchester United announced, according to the BBC. “People in the stadium are advised to remain in their seats while the forecourt is cleared of fans evacuated from the stadium. Further announcements will be made as soon as possible.”
A security meeting was then held and police and other officials decided to evacuate the stadium.
4. The Game Between Manchester United & Bournemouth Has Not Yet Been Rescheduled
A new date for the game to be played has not yet been scheduled.
“The Premier League will seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and will advise fans accordingly,” according to a statement from the Premier League. “It is always the last resort to abandon one of our fixtures and while we apologise for the inconvenience caused to fans we are sure, in the circumstances, they will appreciate the need to do so.”
Nine other Premier League games were played as scheduled on Sunday.
For updates on when the game will be played, click the link below:
5. There Have Been Other Stadium Evacuations Since the ISIS Attack on the Paris Football Stadium in November 2015
The Old Trafford bomb scare is not the first at a football stadium in recent months. Security has been on high alert at European stadiums since the Stade de France was attacked by suicide bombers during an ISIS assault on Paris in November 2015.
During the attacks in France on November 13, three suicide bombers detonated explosives outside of Stade de Francis, just north of Paris. One other person, who was waiting to enter the stadium, was killed in the explosions.
According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the bombers attempted to enter the stadium, where France was playing against Germany during a game attended by French President Hollande, but was stopped at a security checkpoint. He then detonated his bomb, and the two other attackers soon followed suit.
The game continued, and after the area was determined to be clear fans were let out of the stadium.
A game in Brussels, Belgium, between Spain and Belgium was also cancelled over security concerns in the days after the attacks.
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