Two die in Boston Marathon blasts

Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon today, killing two people, injuring 22 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators at America’s oldest and most prestigous marathon.

Two die in Boston Marathon blasts

Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon today, killing two people, injuring 22 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators at America’s oldest and most prestigous marathon.

According to the Boston Marathon website there were 108 confirmed Irish entrants in the race.

One runner, a Rhode Island state police officer, said he saw at least two dozen people with very serious injuries, including missing limbs.

About two hours after the winners crossed the finish line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later.

The Boston Marathon said that bombs caused the two explosions and that organisers were working with authorities to determine what happened. The Boston Police Department said two people were killed and 23 others injured.

Competitors and race volunteers were 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. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured while stragglers in the 26.2-mile (42-kilometre) race were rerouted away from the smoking site.

Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Rhode Island, had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the first blast.

“I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor,” he said. “We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.”

A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.

“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.

Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route. 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.”

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.

The White House said President Barack Obama has been notified about the explosions. The administration said it is in contact with state and local authorities and the president directed his administration to provide whatever assistance is necessary in the investigation and response.

Vice President Joe Biden was on a conference call with gun control activists when staffers turned on televisions in his office to view coverage of the explosions. Mr Biden said during the call that his prayers were with those who suffered injuries.

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.

The nearby Prudential Tower, the city’s second-tallest building with an upmarket shopping mall on the ground, was evacuated, with the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, according to media reports.

Race day got started with 26 seconds of silence in honour of the victims of the December school shooting in Connecticut. A little more than two hours later, the lead runners passed the Mile 26 marker, which was decorated with the Newtown, Connecticut, seal and dedicated to the memory of those killed there.

The annual marathon takes place on Patriot’s Day, a state holiday that celebrates the evacuation of Boston by the British in the American Revolution.

A senior US intelligence official said two other explosive devices were found nearby.

A third explosion was heard about an hour after the first two after authorities warned spectators to expect a loud noise from a water cannon that police apparently were using to destroy one of the devices.

Shortly after the explosions, Secret Service shut down Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, cordoning off the area with yellow police tape. Several Secret Service patrol cars also blocked off the entry points to the road.

The White House was not on lockdown and tourists and other onlookers were still able to be in the park across the street from the executive mansion.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned pilots that it had created a no-fly zone over the site of the explosions in Boston.

The agency said in a notice issued Monday about an hour after the explosions that a no-fly zone with a 3.5-mile (5.6-km) radius has been created over 811 Boylston Street. The zone is limited to flights under 3,000 feet (914 metres), which is lower than most airliners would fly except when taking off or landing.

The notice said the no-fly zone is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. Pilots planning flights were urged to call their local flight service station.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano directed her agency to provide “whatever assistance” necessary.

Bobby Hillard from Clonakilty was one of over 100 Irish runners who took part in the race, he spoke to Newstalk about what he saw:

Another Irish runner, Gerry Carr explains the chaotic scenes to Newstalk in the aftermath of the explosions:

The Irish Consulate in Boston says it is too early to tell if any Irish citizens have been injured in the explosions.

Irish Consul Michael Lonergan says they are optimistic all Irish will be accounted for:

Barack Obama said those responsible will feel the ``full weight of justice''.

The US President told a news conference at the White House: “The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight, and Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.

“We don’t yet have all the answers but we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.”

He added: “We salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.

“We still do not know who did this, or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.

“But, make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this, we will find out why they did this.

“Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs advises anyone concerned about family of friends in Boston to call 01 478 0822.

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