A forklift truck driver who ran towards the sounds of explosions at Manchester Arena has told of how he cradled dying Saffie Rose Roussos in his arms as she called out for her mum.

The eight-year-old was the youngest of 22 people killed when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated an explosive device amid pop concertgoers attending an Ariana Grande performance.

Paul Reid, a 43-year-old father, had been leaving the gig on Monday night (22 May) when heard the bomb – prompting him to run back in to look for the terrorist.

He instead found himself comforting the injured strewn across the floor, including young Saffie.

In floods of tears, first-aid trained Reid told The Sun: "She was a dying little girl and she just wanted her mum. It was devastating."

He told of how the girl, who had been at the concert with mum Lisa and an older sister, was lying 15ft from an exit door wearing a T-shirt, leggings and ankle boots.

He continued: "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'.

"She said, 'What's happened?' What could I say to her? I just tried to reassure her, then one of the paramedics came.

"She cut the girl's trousers off, did a quick assessment and told me to stop with her.

"The girl kept trying to fall asleep but I knew I had to keep her awake and conscious. I was stroking her face and saying, 'Come on Sophie stay awake. You're going to be all right. They are coming to take you away in a minute.'

"But 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.

"A smartly dressed woman appeared and said she was a nurse who had been at the concert. She began to assess her. Two or three police then arrived and I said we had to get her out of there."

Saffie Rose Roussos
Saffie Rose RoussosFacebook

Reid then helped officers move Saffie from the scene with a makeshift stretcher made from an advertising board.

He said: "She was awake but not crying or moaning at all, not a bit. She's just still and quiet.

"Once we got outside one of the police flags down an ambulance. We gently put her in and she is still alive with her eyes open. That's the last time I saw her."

Reid heard on the news the next day that Saffie had died of her injuries. The girl's mother was also injured in the blast, and is understood to be unaware her daughter died due to being heavily sedated at hospital.

After helping Saffie, Reid said he raced back into the venue to give first aid to more victims, including a man with "a massive leg wound" and a dying teenage girl.

"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 ... There were people dead everywhere and people running in a panic towards the train station."

Tributes have been left outside Saffie's family's chip shop in Leyland, Lancashire, since news arrived of her death.

"We did our best to save her but in the end no one could. I only knew her for a few minutes but I will never forget her," Reid said.