BOSTON — Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.
A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation still was unfolding said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.
President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible will “feel the full weight of justice.”
A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course in what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack.
As the FBI took charge of the investigation, authorities shed no light on a motive or who may have carried out the bombings, and police said they had no suspects in custody. Officials in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
WBZ-TV reported late Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served Monday night in Revere but provided no further details.
The fiery twin blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending dense plumes of smoke rising over the street and through the fluttering national flags lining the course. Blood stained the pavement, and huge shards were missing from window panes as high as three stories.
“They just started bringing people in with no limbs,” said runner Tim Davey of Richmond, Va. He said he and his wife, Lisa, tried to keep their children's eyes shielded from the gruesome scene inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners, but “they saw a lot.”
“They just kept filling up with more and more casualties,” Lisa Davey said. “Most everybody was conscious. They were very dazed.”
Police said at least three people were killed. An 8-year-old boy was among the dead, according to a person who talked to a friend of the family and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hospitals reported at least 144 people injured, at least 17 of them critically. The victims' injuries included broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.
At Massachusetts General Hospital, said Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: “This is something I've never seen in my 25 years here … this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war.”
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AT A GLANCE
Setting the scene
Runners in the medical tent for treatment of dehydration or other race-related ills were pushed out to make room for victims of the bombing.
A woman who was a few feet from the second bomb, Brighid Wall, 35, of Duxbury, said that when it exploded, runners and spectators froze, unsure of what to do. Her husband threw their children to the ground, lay on top of them and another man lay on top of them and said, “Don't get up, don't get up.”
After a minute or so without another explosion, Wall said, she and her family headed to a Starbucks and out the back door through an alley. Around them, the windows of the bars and restaurants were blown out. She said she saw six to eight people bleeding profusely, including one man who was kneeling, dazed, with blood trickling down his head. Another person was on the ground covered in blood and not moving.
Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured, while race stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site.
Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Smithfield, R.I., had just finished the race when he heard the blasts.
“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.”