A mother who suffered devastating injuries in the Manchester Arena bombing told the public inquiry into the atrocity she had been prepared to die with her sister after the pair had been seriously hurt in the blast.

Janet Senior said she prayed for help after hearing the 'bang crack' of the explosion and mentally prepared to die as she held the hand of her sister Josie Howarth.

The survivors described the 'organised chaos' of the emergency service response and how it took more than three hours for them to arrive at hospital.

Janet and sister Josie, from west Yorkshire, had taken their two teenage nieces to the concert in May 2017 - the tickets were Christmas presents.

The couple were among hundreds left with serious injuries when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a huge device in his backpack as young concert-goers left the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Some 22 people died in the attack.

As the independent inquiry into the atrocity continued on Monday, Mrs Senior described the moment she heard a 'bang crack' and was thrown from her feet as she and Josie waited in the City Room foyer for their nieces.

As she came round she saw that no-one was helping even though 'people were dying'.

She said she saw a police officer with a dog heading into the arena bowl amid fears of a secondary device.

"I thought, 'Christ, it ’s a bomb', and I thought everybody’s gone because clearly there’s more danger. And up to that point, I really felt that we were going to get home that night.

Janet Senior gives evidence to the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry

"We were injured but we were fighters, we were going to get out. And for that moment in time when I saw that dog, I feared then that we weren’t going home.... I shouted to Josie and I asked her to give me her hand because I felt myself give in that they’re not coming in because we’re obviously not going to make it. There’s going to be another explosion.

"And at that point my whole life went past me, my family wouldn’t know what happened, they’d never see us again. At that point, my legs worked, and I had an overwhelming... I could have got out and I could go home to my family.

"But then I looked at my sister and I thought, 'how can I leave her?' And if she died on her own... I made a choice at that point, seeing that dog, that I either stay here and die with my sister or I get up and I save myself."

An x-ray showing one of two bolts that were removed from Josie Howarth's leg and thigh after the Manchester Arena attack

She recalled she asked her sister for her hand and thought: "If I ’m going to die with anybody, I may as well die with her."

Mrs Senior continued: "I chose to not go home and stay with my sister because of that dog... I sank into that floor like a lead weight, and I just thought, that’s it , hold your breath, because we’re not going out of here."

The inquiry heard that the investigation suggested no dog had passed her in the foyer but had done so later on the station concourse.

She recalling how she struggled to help her sister apply a makeshift tourniquet, fashioned from a handbag handle, to stem the bleeding from her leg wound.

Josie Howarth needed crutches to walk after the attack

The pair were finally helped out of the City Room at 11.14pm, some 43 minutes after the blast. Josie had been left with two pieces of shrapnel in a serious leg wound.

Help was 'very slow in coming', said Mrs Senior, who said she owed her life to the heat from the blast which she said had 'cauterised' her wounds and stopped her bleeding to death.

She described how she was moved to a casualty clearing station which had been set up on the station concourse where paramedics dressed a serious chest wound.

Mrs Senior told the inquiry at the time she felt 'freezing' as she waited to be taken away.

The inquiry has heard paramedics ran out of foil blankets for casualties. Mrs Senior said she told one paramedic about her discomfort but that they had told her: "It is cold isn't it but the blankets are being used on other casualties."

Mrs Senior said her 'knight in shining armour' was a Travel Safe officer Philip Clegg, who had comforted her and removed his jacket and covered her with it.

The inquiry heard she finally left the arena area in an ambulance at 40 minutes past midnight.

Mrs Senior said it felt like she was on board the ambulance for an 'eternity' - the inquiry heard records showed she arrived at Wythenshawe Hospital at 1.44pm, some three hours and 13 minutes after the blast.

The witness said she recalled paramedics saying the delay was because they had not been allocated a hospital.

The chairman of the inquiry, Sir John Saunders, after hearing how the witness continues to suffer from her injuries and had been diagnosed with PTSD, told her: "You have given a really graphic description of the horrific experiences you went through that night, so we can understand better how awful it was. You clearly suffered really bad injuries. You fought back against them in a hugely determined way, and as far as I ’m concerned, you have my unqualified admiration for how you’ve coped with this, and I’m sure of everybody else as well, so don’t give up."

Giving her own evidence, her sister Josie Howarth described the moment of the blast.

She said: "There was a very loud bang and I was looking at the merchandise stall and everything went to shreds. The merchandise that was pinned on the wall just went to shreds and literally a hundredth of a second later there was the main explosion. It wasn’t technically two explosions but it sounded for a second like it was.

Josie Howarth gives evidence to the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry

"And I said to myself 'here we go'. I knew instantly it was a bomb. Then there was rolling flames, orange, that seemed to go down the doors from the left−hand side towards the right−hand side. It was very bright, very loud, and then I felt a really bad hit to my leg and I seemed to be running, not very far , just a few strides to try and avoid the flames and the blast, as it were. And then when it stopped, I thought it was the arena that had blown up, so all I could think was 'oh my God, the kids'.

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"And I took a step towards the arena doors and at that time debris was hitting me and glass crashed down from the roof, which is why I thought I’d got glass in my leg. As I stepped towards the arena doors, I heard Janet say 'Josie, get down'... By this time I’m very light−headed, I’m aware that I can’t walk very well, and I’d forgotten for a minute that I was with her, and as I’m going back towards her, I ’m shouting 'Janet, Janet, I’m hurt', and I put my hand on my leg and blood was gushing from it."

She arrived at hospital at 2.08pm, some three hours and 37 minutes after the blast

Another survivor Andrea Bradbury, who had only just retired as a counter terrorism police officer, told the inquiry she had gone to the arena with a friend to take their daughters to the concert.

She felt a 'massive blast' behind her as she was standing between the bomber and the doors into the arena as she waited for the girls to return.

Retired police officer Andrea Bradbury gives evidence to the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry

It felt like the bag of her legs were being 'strimmed' by the blast, she said.

She recalled being knocked face down to the ground and suffering a serious leg injury.

The witness recalled getting a taxi to GMP's HQ in Newton Heath where she saw a female officer who was a 'gold' commander.

Ms Bradbury recalled giving the senior officer an update from the scene but being surprised she was not invited into the station to give more information.

The officer appeared like 'a rabbit in the headlights', she said. It was only then the retired officer realised she needed hospital treatment. Ms Bradbury said she had PTSD and had permanent nerve damage to her legs.

The inquiry continues.