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Twin blasts rock Boston Marathon
(UPDATE) At least 3 are dead and over 100 wounded after two large explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday

INJURED. A man is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square. AFP Photo

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MANILA, Philippines (8th UPDATE) – At least 3 are dead and over 100 wounded after two large explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15 (Tuesday, April 16 in Manila).

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis says that at 2:50 pm Boston time (2:50 am Manila time)  there were simultaneous explosions that occured along the route of Boston Marathon finish line. The explosions occurred 50-100 yards apart.

The thunderous blasts struck near the finish line of the marathon, long after the winners had crossed. Competitors who were still running when the blasts rocked downtown Boston were diverted elsewhere. Some 27,000 people were entered to take part in the event.

Davis later raised the death toll from two to three at a late evening news conference at which other officials fended off a barrage of questions about the investigation into the explosions.

News reports said one of the fatalities was an eight-year-old boy and that some of the injured lost limbs. One woman told CNN the blast was the loudest sound she had ever heard, and it made the ground shake.

The blasts left a street littered with blood and debris, as spectators screamed and fled, paramedics hauled away stretchers and police rushed in, according to witnesses, one of whom saw a man with his lower limbs blown off.

More than 100 were injured, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick said, without giving an exact figure. The Boston Globe said it was at least 125.

NBC News, citing officials, reported that police had found “multiple explosive devices” in Boston, raising the possibility of a coordinated attack.

US President Barack Obama went on national television to say it was not yet clear who was behind the blasts. He said the perpetrators would pay. He did not utter the word “terror.”

“We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts,” Obama said. “But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this, we’ll find out why they did this.”

A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said later that “any event with multiple explosive devices — as this appears to be — is clearly an act of terror.”

FBI special agent Rick DesLauriers did say: “It is a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation.”

Frame grab courtesy of WPXI11 Pittsburgh

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she believed the blasts were in fact an attack but it was unclear if the perpetrators were homegrown or foreign.

Asked if this was terrorism, she told reporters: “It looks that way.”

And Senator Susan Collins said her staff spoke with the National Counter Terrorism Center and were told that while was no intelligence warning of an attack, “I believe this attack bears all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.”

Initially, authorities said there had been a third explosion at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, but the facility later said there was an electrical fire that had been extinguished without causing any injuries.

Caught on video

Video footage on American TV showed the moment when the first blast apparently struck: the detonation came on the left side of the course, behind spectators and a row of colorful national flags showing how runners come from around the world to take part.

Security people in yellow jackets threw their hands to their ears as the blast took place and at least one runner was thrown to the ground as white smoke billowed upward. The already waving flags whipped violently with the shockwave of the explosion.

At the blast scene, a horrific chorus of high-pitched wailing and screaming rang out as bewildered runners and spectators fled the carnage and debris.

Grisly accounts abounded. “We saw people with their legs blown off,” Mark Hagopian, owner of the Charlesmark Hotel, told AFP from the basement of a restaurant where he had sought shelter.

“A person next to me had his legs blown off at the knee — he was still alive.”

“It was bad, it was fast,” he said. “There was a gigantic explosion… we felt wind on our faces… Police were saying: ‘Get out, get out, leave, leave there may be more bombs.'”

Nineteen wounded people were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, including 6 who required emergency surgery, according to Alasdair Conn, head of emergency services.

He added that several of the injured required “traumatic amputations” at the scene or at the hospital.

Boston Medical Center said it received 20 patients, including two children, from the site of the marathon explosions. “Most of these patients have lower leg injuries,” it said in a brief statement.

GRIEF. Runner John Ounao breaks down after he finds friends after several explosions rocked the finish of the Boston Marathon. AFP Photo

No Filipinos injured

According to Elmer Cato of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, as of the latest reports, no Filipinos are among the injured.

At least 10 runners from the Philippines participated in the Boston Marathon this year. One of them, Arland Macasieb posted on his Facebook page, “Craziness at the Boston Marathon finish line! I am safe and most of the Fil am Tri team are also safe and accounted for. Thank you everyone for your concern.”

“We were a few blocks away when it happened. The response of the EMTs police and fire department was instantaneous. They stopped the race,” said Amanda Carpo, another Filipina who just finished the Boston Marathon. Carpo, her sister Leica, and fiance Mike Bond competed and all of them are accounted for.

Security was stepped up in New York and Washington, as well as in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the Big Apple, police said they were boosting security at hotels and “other prominent locations in the city.”

The blasts in Boston rattled US markets, sending the Dow and the S&P 500 down at the close.

“Praying for those at the Boston Marathon today,” said one of the US senators from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. The Senate observed a moment of silence, and the House of Representatives was to follow suit.

The Boston Marathon is one of the biggest annual athletic events held in the United States, with nearly 27,000 racers who must qualify to compete and tens of thousands of spectators.

The race attracts world-class athletes, most of whom would have likely completed the race a couple hours before the blast went off. The video clip of the blast showed the marathon timeclock at 4:09:44.

Hours later, the flag at the majestic white dome of the US Capitol in Washington was lowered in honor of the blast victims. – with reports from Agence France-Presse, Michael Josh Villanueva, and Ryan Macasero/ 

Emergency Numbers: Bombs tip line +1-800-494-TIPS. Families can call +1-617-635-4500.

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