Two bombs tore through the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon, leaving at least three dead and injuring as many as 130 people in a terrifying scene of shattered glass, bloodstained pavements, and severed limbs.
The bombs ripped apart the relaxed and celebratory atmosphere of Patriots’ Day as participants took their final strides in the world’s oldest and most prestigious race.
An eight-year-old boy was reported among the dead, while more than 100 Irish runners were caught up in the chaos. Several told of crossing the line just as the bombs detonated (see pages 4&5).
Ireland always contributes a large contingent to the 27,000 runners who take part in the race in a city which is home to 97,000 people claiming Irish heritage. Horrifying images of injured spectators and blood-splattered pavements were caught as television cameras broadcast footage of the explosions.
The scenes in Boston sent waves of dismay through America, where no attacks have succeeded since September 11, 2001.
At the White House, the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. US President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible will “feel the full weight of justice”.
Even though there was no confirmation it was a terrorist strike, special precautions were triggered, including the closing down of Pennsylvania Avenue close to the White House in Washington DC.
There was no word on the motive or who may have launched the attack, and authorities in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The Boston Police Department said two people were killed. Hospitals reported at least 57 injured, at least eight of them critically.
Some reports put the death toll as high as 12 and said that as many as 100 people were injured.
After the explosions, the mobile phone service was reportedly shut down in the area to prevent any possible remote explosive detonations.
The twin blasts at the race took place almost simultaneously and about 100 metres apart, at 2.45pm local time with four hours and nine minutes on the marathon clock.
The explosions tore limbs off numerous people, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending smoke rising over the street. (Courtesy The Independent)