Explosions At Boston Marathon

April 15, 2013       Paul Clolery      

At least 3 people are reported dead and nearly 140 injured as a result of two explosions near the finish line of the 117th annual Boston Marathon. A third device was found before it detonated.

There was what appears to be an unrelated fire at the John J. Kennedy Library at about the same time. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis had said it was a bomb, but officials have since said the fire appears to be coincidental. There were no reports of injuries at the library.

Davis confirmed the fatalities. Officials of the Boston Marathon posted to Facebook: “There were two bombs that exploded near the finish line in today’s Boston Marathon. We are working with law enforcement to understand what exactly has happened.”

According to eyewitnesses, the first explosion occurred at about 2:45 p.m., with the second blast 15 seconds later on the other side of the street.

The explosions were near the intersection of Boylston and Exeter streets. A spokesman for Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed 19 patients and that the facility is expecting more patients. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston received at least 18 patients, Tufts Medical Center reported nine patients and Boston Children’s Hospital reported five patients. The nearly 140 injured were scattered among nine Boston hospitals.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blasts.

President Barack Obama spoke to the nation at 6:10 p.m. He said there was not much known. “We still don’t know who did this or why,” he said. He said federal resources have been mobilized to Boston. He did not take questions.

The Family Meeting Area was moved to Boston Common from near the blast area, marathon officials posted to Facebook. Runners were directed there to meet friends and family. City of Boston assets were deployed to assist runners at the Common, according to race organizers.

The explosions occurred after the leaders had finished the race. According to Boston Marathon official there were 26,916 runners in this year’s race. The later runners were detoured from the area.

According to Maj. Ron Busroe, national spokesman for the Salvation Army, the SA is sending eight personnel (three officers, five volunteers) with two mobile kitchens to two staging areas near the finish line. The eight SA members will be serving food and beverages and offering a place to rest to first responders and families of the victims. Busroe also expects the officers to provide spiritual and emotional counseling to victims and their friends and family.

“It’s still a very chaotic scene in the area,” said Busroe, relaying information from Massachusetts Divisional Commander Maj. David Kelly, who is in contact with city and state emergency personnel. “People are being taken to hospitals, and you’re not allowed to get in and out,” continued Busroe. “It’s a little harder to get around down there, and cell phone towers are overloaded.”

Boston Athletic Association, parent organization of the marathon, showed income of $11.02 million for 2010 on its most recent federal Form 990. That was an increase from the $9.83 million reported in 2009 and $8.02 million in 2008.

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race at 2:26:25. Lelisa Desisa Benti of Ethiopia took the men’s race with a time of 2:10:22.

Officials extensively used social media to disseminate information.  John F. Kennedy officials Tweeted “JF fire in building is out, appears to have started in the mechanical room of new building. All staff and visitors are accounted for and safe.”

The American Red Cross Tweeted: “Thanks to generosity of volunteer blood donors there is currently enough blood on the shelves to meet demand.”

The Red Cross shipped 100 blood products to Boston-area hospitals. “We do have sufficient funds and sufficient blood products to meet needs at this time,” said Director of Media Relations Anne Marie Borrego. She was not able to estimate how many Red Cross volunteers would be descending on the area, saying it’s too early to tell. “We’re currently assessing needs and working with officials to determine the best way to serve the community,” she said.

A statement on the Red Cross’s website provided some additional details: “People in Boston who have access to a computer can go to redcross.org/safeandwell to list themselves as safe or they can text or call a family member and ask to be registered on the site. Please note that due to high volume, the Safe and Well site is experiencing slow page loads at this time.”

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund Tweeted that it had 21 runners in the Boston Marathon. “We’ve received word that all runners & staff have checked in & are safe,” according to the Tweet.

Google launched a people finder at http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions

(Photo from Bruce Mendelsohn)

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NPT Writers Zach Halper, Mark Hrywna and Patrick Sullivan contributed to this report.