Police are closing down a cordon in the city centre following a controlled explosion on a suspicious package.
Emergency services were called to New York Street at 7.35am after a member of the public discovered a suspicious package left on the pavement near to the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly hotel – thousands of people were evacuated from nearby offices while tram and bus services were suspended.
A 100metre cordon was put in place and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts arrived on scene.
EOD officers carried out a controlled explosion and following an examination of the package it was found to contain no explosive device.
A laptop and cables were found inside and the package has now been collected by forensic teams.
Superintendent Neil Bhole said: “This incident has caused significant disruption this morning but we have to put the safety of the public ahead of inconvenience and disruption and we make no apology for the steps taken.
“We have dealt with this as quickly as possible without jeopardising public safety and everything should now be returning to normal.
“We obviously cannot speculate on the motive for the bag being left where it was but will now be carrying out an investigation to try and trace the individual involved.”
CORDONS: Usually bustling Piccadilly Gardens completely empty in bomb scare
EXCLUSION ZONE: Package found underneath background Mercure hotel
TRAMS SUSPENDED: Empty tram travels through cordon to safety
EERIE: Piccadilly Gardens deserted as thousands evacuated by police
Student Sophie Collins said: “ I was going to Xavarian college as usual this morning from Piccadilly but there were no trams running at all, the was place was in chaos. No one seemed to know what was going on except that there was a ‘mysterious package’.”
The 17-year-old from Droylsden added: “We’ve been told it might be three hours before we’re able to even get down to college.”
Michael Collins, from Cheetham Hill, was on his way to do a quick bit of shopping at Primark when he became trapped in the crowds.
The 47-year-old said: “I couldn’t get anywhere near Market Street, the cordon kept moving back as if it was getting more and more serious. Everyone seemed quite scared.”
EVACUATION LINE: No risks taken by emergency services as 100m cordon put in place
POLICE ORDERS: No one allowed within 100m of where package was found
An anonymous worker from City Tower, one of the buildings evacuated due to the bomb scare, said: “I came to work as usual and found the place was in complete lockdown. It was terrifying.
“We couldn’t get anywhere near our building and then they kept moving us further and further away! It went from a little worry to all out panic at one point. But it all seems to be returning to normal now.”
Residents and workers surrounding the area between Piccadilly Station and Market Street are being urged to not leave their buildings as emergency services wait for the exploded package to be picked up.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts have carried out a controlled explosion on the suspicion package found on New York Street in Manchester city centre.
“They are now examining the contents of the package and an update will be issued in due course.“
Louise Gibson, 21, Bury, said: “It may have all been sorted but still don’t bother coming into Manchester! I’ve been waiting for a bus for an hour and a half and no sign of things being normal yet.”
A shop worker from Quality Save said they have been closed for the last two and a half hours.
“It’s going to be a very slow day compared to a usual busy Friday – the scare has cost us a fair bit of business!”
NO GO ZONE: Hub of Manchester city centre in lockdown until bomb squad remove suspicious package
EARLY SCENES: As confusion spread across Piccadilly thousands were unable to get to work