WASHINGTON, April 15, 2013 — At roughly 2:50 p.m. EDT Monday, two explosions detonated without warning near the finish of the Boston Marathon, sending authorities out on the course to carry away the injured. Stragglers in the 26.2-mile race were rerouted away from the the area which was billowing smoke after the apparent attack. Winners of the race had crossed the finish line hours earlier. It was reported this evening that a 20 year-old Saudi, hospitalized at an undisclosed site for severe burns, may be the suspect police had been searching for.
Neither race officials nor public officials could immediately estimate the number or degree of injuries, although reports are now claiming at least three confirmed dead as of 10:30 p.m. with current estimate of at least 141 injured. Final figures continue to be subject to revision.
Witnesses at the scene described distraught competitors and race volunteers crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners. Radio reports from CBS (via WTOP in Washington, D.C.) and Fox News (via the syndicated Sean Hannity show, which interrupted its regular schedule to cover the story) confirmed a scene of bloody chaos on the north side of Boylston Street, almost exactly at the Marathon’s finish line.
(Warning: Graphic images follow.)
“There are a lot of people down,” said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg. A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.
Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.
“There are people who are really, really bloody,” said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. “They were pulling them into the medical tent.”
Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
“I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is … it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”
Below, a Boston Globe tape sequence from the scene captures the exact moment of the first explosion. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the second blast a few seconds later and see the resulting smoke in the rear foreground of the video. (The second blast occurred about two blocks away.) Note, due to heavy accessing, this video may take a bit of time to load and/or run somewhat erratically.
Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
According to an AP report by Security Writer Lara Jakes, “a senior U.S. intelligence official says two more explosive devices have been found near the scene of the Boston marathon where two bombs detonated earlier,” asserting that the new devices were being dismantled.”
The AP report noted that the official “spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the findings publicly.” Unconfirmed reports have compared the devices to IEDs.
Reacting almost immediately to the news from Boston, New York City police have beefed up their presence in the city, as have police forces in Los Angeles, London, and other cities around the world. Chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Monday that critical response teams are deployed around the city. Officials are stepping up security at hotels and other prominent locations, according to AP.
Wall Street trading, already substantially negative as a result of a dramatic plunge in the price of gold today, turned into a rout after 3 p.m., possibly due to early reports trickling out from Boston that seemed to describe a coordinated terrorist attack. The Dow Jones Industrials closed down over 265 points.
In Washington, WTOP radio news reported that a large area around the White House has been closed to traffic and cordoned off, and Metro Police have reportedly been informed they must work beyond their normal shift time this evening. WTOP also notes that both the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) have increased the level of alert, although none of these transit authorities perceive a “credible threat” at least at this time.
In Boston, further details on the twin explosions are still hard to confirm as of 5 p.m. and it is likely that the estimated casualty toll and the number of confirmed dead will fluctuate considerably in the hours ahead. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the twin blasts, and officials are reluctant to assess blame at this point.
In a related development, British police also say they are reviewing security plans for Sunday’s London Marathon. It’s the next major international marathon. A London Metropolitan Police spokesman says police are working with marathon officials to review security plans in light of the currently unfolding tragedy in Boston.
—AP contributed to this report
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