Flags lowered to half mast in North East as it pays tribute to Manchester attack victims

Organisations across the region have paid their respects to those who have lost their lives in the Manchester suicide attack.

Flags at council buildings have been lowered, while the emergency services have also sent their thoughts to the victims and their friends and families in the aftermath of last night's tragedy.

It has been confirmed 22 people died and 59 people have been injured in the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

Two teenagers from South Shields remain missing following the attack.

Read more here.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "We know our communities will be concerned following the tragic events in Manchester overnight which has seen 22 people killed and many more injured.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with all those who have been affected.

"The incident is being treated as terrorism by Greater Manchester Police.

"The national threat level currently remains at 'severe' and there is nothing to suggest there is any specific threat to our communities in Northumbria.

"Extra patrols will be on patrol, including armed officers, in high footfalls areas such as the city centres and around transport hubs as they have done since last year.

Police close to the Manchester Arena the morning after a suspected terrorist attack at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 22 dead. Photo by Press Association.

Police close to the Manchester Arena the morning after a suspected terrorist attack at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 22 dead. Photo by Press Association.

"Members of the public should not be concerned about the patrols, they are not in response to any specific threat but are there to reassure members of the public of the security measures we have in place to help protect them and keep them safe.

"Neighbourhood officers and community engagement teams throughout the force will be speaking to local community groups to offer reassurance.

"We will be holding a meeting with local authorities and emergency services, this afternoon, chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best, so that we can respond to the events in Manchester and provide an effective response for upcoming events in our own area.

"Members of the public are reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police or by calling the Anti-Hotline on 0800 789 321 or visit www.gov.uk/ACT."

Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird's thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected by the terror attack in Manchester.

She said: “My thoughts are with all those who were at the concert in Manchester and their family and friends.

The flags at half mast outside Old Shotton Hall. Photo copyright Peterlee Town Council.

The flags at half mast outside Old Shotton Hall. Photo copyright Peterlee Town Council.

"The terror attack in Manchester has had an effect on communities right across the country, including here in the North East in South Shields and Gateshead.

"Today we grieve for those who lost their lives and maintain our hope that those missing are found safe and well.

"The attack on Manchester reinforces our vigour and determination to tackle those who cause such atrocities in our communities.

"Northumbria Police will continue to work with communities across the North East to offer whatever support is needed.

Durham Constabulary's Union Flag flying at half mast today at its HQ at Aykley Heads, Durham.

Durham Constabulary's Union Flag flying at half mast today at its HQ at Aykley Heads, Durham.

"We all have a duty to remain alert and report anything suspicious to the police.

"I would like to also reiterate the words of respect to the emergency services and all those who helped.

"Dealing with such an appalling event is always difficult and like many others, I recognise the bravery and professionalism in response to the incident."

Durham Constabulary said: "We are aware that people will be concerned following the terrible events in Manchester last night.

"The thoughts of everyone at Durham Constabulary are with those affected.

"The national threat level currently remains at 'severe' and there is nothing to suggest there is any specific threat to our communities in County Durham and Darlington.

The Union Flag lowered outside Hartlepool Civic Centre.

The Union Flag lowered outside Hartlepool Civic Centre.

"Neighbourhood officers and community engagement teams throughout the force will be speaking to local community groups to offer reassurance.

"We will also be carrying out reviews of public events due to take place in our area.

"These measures are not in response to any specific threat but are there to reassure members of the public of the security measures we have in place to help protect you and keep you safe.

"Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police or by calling the Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321 or visit www.gov.uk/ACT."

Cleveland Police has said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected by the incident at the Manchester Stadium last night; families and friends of those killed or injured, and all our emergency service and partner agency colleagues.

"Anyone from the Cleveland area who is trying to establish the wellbeing, safety or whereabouts of a friend or relative is asked not to contact Cleveland Police as unfortunately we do not have information on anyone from our area who may have travelled to the Ariana Grande concert.

"If you have concerns or are trying to trace a friend or relative who you know to have attended the concert and who has not been in touch, please ring 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900."

Durham County Council has posted a video of its Union Flag at half mast.

It said: "This morning we are lowering the union flag over County Hall to half mast in honour of the victims of the Manchester terror attack."

Peterlee Town Council posted a photo of its flags at half mast on its Facebook page with the message: "The Union Flag and town council flag at the Peterlee Town Council offices at Shotton Hall are at half mast today as a mark of respect."

Town Mayor, Councillor Lee Cook, said: "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible incident in Manchester."

Sunderland City Council has also lowered its flag at the Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Borough Council has done the same and its leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the appalling attack at Manchester Arena.

“This was an attack on innocent people - including many young children – and I know people across Hartlepool will be devastated by the news.

“As a mark of respect to the people of Manchester we are flying the Civic Centre flags at half mast.”

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Olive Punchion, said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those affected by this horrific incident, including those who are still anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones.

"As a mark of respect, the flag at South Shields Town Hall is being flown at half mast.

"This incident is particularly sickening as it was targeted directly at our young people.

"However, we must show unity in the face of this attack, and I would urge people to stand together to show the perpetrators that they cannot win."

Sunderland AFC tweeted a message sending its thoughts to all those involved, as did Newcastle United, which said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by last night's incident at the Manchester Arena and the people of Greater Manchester."

Hartlepool United said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the devastating events in Manchester last night."

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the #Manchester incident.

"An emergency number is available for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area. Call 0161 856 9400."

Durham Miners' Association said: "Our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the atrocity in Manchester.

"We also pay tribute to the emergency services for their bravery."

Wearside Women in Need posted: "Thoughts and prayers are with everyone connected with Manchester Arena incident ❤️❤️❤️"