Washington, April 16 (IANS) Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, killing at least two people and injuring around 100 others, media reports said. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick described it as a “horrific day”.
The terrorist attack, near the marathon’s finish line, triggered widespread screaming and chaos, shattered windows and barricades and sent smoke billowing into the air at Copley Square, CNN reported.
The explosions occurred around 2.45 p.m., more than two hours after the first of the race’s nearly 27,000 runners had crossed the finish line, said a producer from CNN.
The race was halted as was subway service into the area.
The Boston Globe said more than 100 people were being treated in hospitals.
The blasts were about 50 to 100 yards apart, officials said.
“It felt like a huge cannon,” a witness told CNN.
People were seen being carried away on stretchers. One man in a wheelchair had blood all over his face and legs.
CNN’s video showed heavy smoke on the street, while emergency crews were treating the injured. Bleeding spectators were seen being carried to a medical tent set up to care for the runners.
The bombs shook nearby buildings, sending people to seek shelter under tables, witnesses told CNN.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said authorities found at least one other explosive device that they were dismantling.
Davis said a third blast at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library was believed to be related to the marathon bombings, but police later said that incident was believed to be fire-related. The library said all staff and visitors were safe.
It was unclear who may have planted the bombs. There were no credible threats before the race, a state government official told CNN.
As authorities searched the scene, many suspicious packages were found, possibly because people fled the area, leaving items behind. Investigators were checking them.
The Marriott hotel and the Lenox Hotel were evacuated as a precaution, the Boston Globe reported.
Massachusetts General Hospital said it was treating 22 injured, six of them in critical condition, while Tufts Medical Center said it was treating nine people.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital said it received between 18 and 20 injured while the Boston Medical Center reported 20 patients from the marathon, most with lower leg injuries.
“This is a horrific day in Boston,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement.
“My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured. I have been in touch with the president, Mayor (Thomas) Menino and our public safety leaders. Our focus is on making sure that the area around Copley Square is safe and secured. I am asking everyone to stay away from Copley Square and let the first responders do their jobs,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.
US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke with FBI Director Robert Mueller, and has directed the full resources of the Justice Department to be deployed to ensure the matter is fully investigated, an official said.
The Federal Aviation Administration placed a flight restriction over the site of the blasts.
Other cities, including New York and Washington, tightened security following the Boston blasts.
President Barack Obama has been notified of the incident, Xinhua quoted a White House official as saying.
Obama has directed his administration to provide whatever assistance necessary in the investigation and response, the official said.
A photographer with Fox affiliate WFXT reported a number of victims with lost limbs.