Explosions Rock Boston Marathon Finish Line

The scene from near the Boston Marathon finish, where two explosions went off Monday. Photo: Competitor.com

Three deaths and at least 144 injuries occurred because of the twin blasts.

BOSTON — All talk of victories and times at the 117th Boston Marathon went out the window Monday afternoon when the unthinkable happened.

At approximately 2:49 p.m., two explosions, about 10 seconds apart, rocked the finish line area of the race, one about 20 meters before the finish line, the second several blocks up Boylston Street. The explosions were on the north side of the street, the first one almost directly opposite the viewing grandstands. Both devices were placed in trash cans on the street. Police and other first responders rushed toward the blasts, moving spectators and runners out of the way and jumping over crowd barriers to aid victims. The finish line was shut down immediately, and runners who hadn’t yet finished were diverted down Commonwealth Avenue to an alternate route to the family reunion area. The race route was shut down at the St. Ignatius church in Newton at the city line, near the 22-mile mark, and runners were bussed to the reunion area. It was announced that 17,584 runners of the 23,386 starters were able to cross the finish line.

“Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon,” the Boston Athletic Association said in a statement. “What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”

The first explosion occurred at the 4:09:44 mark of the third wave of the race — runners who had started 40 minutes after the elite men and first wave went off the line in Hopkinton at 10 a.m. A third explosion occurred at the JFK Library in the Dorchester section of the city, approximately two miles away. The JFK incident was said not to be related to the two explosions near the finish line.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that three people were killed — including an 8-year-old boy — and at least 144 were injured (17 critically) as a result of the explosions. Fortunately, an extensive mobile medical facility was set up just past the finish, and doctors and nurses quickly switched from treating blisters and dehydration to more serious injuries. Ambulances, staged near the medical area, drove directly onto Boylston to transport the injured runners and spectators to nearby hospitals. The entire area was closed to anyone except first responders and was being treated as a crime scene.

Race director Dave McGillivray had traveled to the starting line in Hopkinton to begin his annual post-race tradition of running the course with a group of friends when Massachusetts State Police arrived and rushed him back to the finish area.

Boston Police commissioner Edward Davis said Monday that many people in the area rushed away and dropped numerous bags, which were all treated as suspicious. As a result, he urged people to stay home or return to their hotels, and stay off the streets congregating in large groups.

Additionally, the Associated Press reported that public safety officials discovered at least two more explosive devices along the race route that failed to detonate.

Two telephone lines were set up to respond the incident: 617-635-4500, the Mayor’s hotline, is the number to call to check on relatives or friends who may have been affected by the bombings. Anyone with information on the incident should call 800-494-TIPS. “This in an ongoing event, we need all the information available to us,” Davis said.

Transportation was thrown into chaos. Flights into and out of Logan Airport were delayed or canceled, buses in the Copley Square area were canceled, and subway service through the area was also shut down.

President Obama addressed the nation shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.

“American people will say a prayer for the people of Boston tonight,” said the president. “Mobilize appropriate resources. Have every single federal resource necessary. We still do not know who did this or why, and people should not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. Any responsible parties will feel the full weight of its consequences. I’m supremely confident that Boston will pull together and move forward as the resilient city it is.”

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