Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Massacre II: Boston Marathon Bombings Kill Three, Injure Over 140 So Far; Two More Devices Found And Dismantled

This post is about the bombings that took place at the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15th, 2013. The purpose of the post is to provide the initial facts, links to frequently-updated sources, and to debunk any conspiracy theories or profiling in advance. No connection to last week's attempted bombing of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being suggested by investigators or media so far.

Media Live-Blogging Sources:

-- CNN This Just In
-- HLN Live Blog
-- Time Live Blog
-- WBZ Channel 4 photo gallery

Here's a video provided by the Associated Press (H/T News-Miner). You will see the first explosion to your right at about the 0:08 point, and hear a second explosion in the background at the 0:32 point:

Here's a second video provided by the Boston Globe. The first explosion occurs on your right at 0:05, and you can hear the second explosion and briefly see the puff of smoke down the street at the 0:19 point:

Summary: At approximately 2:50 P.M. EDT on April 15th, 2013, two explosive devices located 50 to 100 yards apart detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The location was near the intersection of Boylston and Exeter Streets near the Prudential building and Copley Square. A witness 200 feet away reported two separate explosions. The most current media reports indicate three fatalities, with 140 injured reported to be treated at area hospitals. Some of the injuries are described as profound, with accounts of amputated limbs; at least 25 to 30 people were reported to have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing. There are reports of doctors pulling ball bearing out of people's legs. The number of injured is quite likely to change. One of the two fatalities was an eight-year-old child. Eyewitness reports from two other individuals indicate the smell of chemicals was in the area.

KTUU Channel 2 reports that 41 Alaskans had registered to run in the Marathon; they had received no reports about any of them, although the Juneau Empire reports that two Alaskan competitors, Dr. John and Jaime Bursell are safe. They were out of the immediate area before the bombs detonated. Fairbanks resident Don Kiely has now stepped forward, and says he was about two blocks away from the point where the explosions occurred. He had crossed the finish line about half an hour beforehand. Kiely also revealed that back on 9/11, he was about three miles away from where the jet hit the Pentagon. Ten of the 41 Alaskans in the race were from Fairbanks; none have been reported injured. Alaska Dispatch says 27 Alaskans had crossed the finish line before race officials stopped posting results, so that's at least 27 guaranteed not to have been caught up in the blasts; they give specific names of some Alaskans who've checked in.

It will take a long time to clear the area, because many people dropped bags and other personal possessions on the spot when the blasts occurred. Authorities have to check all of those bags, and bomb squads may be detonating things up over the next few hours out of precaution, according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Complicating the issue is the fact that thousands of the 23,336 runners had yet to complete the Marathon. WBZ Channel 4 has an interview with Paul Burton, who was running in the Marathon and was 50 yards away from the explosion. WCVB Channel 5 reported local cell phone service has been temporarily stopped to deter remote detonation of any additional bombs, but Verizon and Sprint deny they've shut down cell service. WSVB also reported that a senior U.S. intelligence official said two more explosive devices were found near the area, and they were dismantled. Initial tests of the bomb remnants indicate no C-4 or other high-grade explosive material present.

A third blast heard in the area was from a controlled explosion of another device by Boston Police. A separate explosion and fire which occurred around 4:02 P.M. EDT at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum five miles away is not considered to be connected with the bombings. Preliminary investigation indicates that this incident started in the mechanical room of the new building. All staff and visitors are accounted for and safe. Library officials confirm this information.

University of Mobile Cross Country Coach Ali Stevenson thinks law enforcement may have been tipped off in advance that there might be bombs. He said he saw sniffer dogs at the start and finish lines, and that there were law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He added that they kept making announcements to the participants not to worry, that it was just a training exercise, but says he's never seen such intense security at a marathon before.

Although the FBI has deemed today's twin bombings as a terrorist attack, Neva Coakley, a spokeswoman for Boston Police, debunks reports that a Saudi national is in custody. She says they have no one in custody at this time. However, the head of an extremist Jordanian Muslim Salafi group, Mohammad al-Chalabi, said that he was happy to see the horror in America, attempting to characterize it as payback for America's interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Chalabi was convicted in an al-Qaeda-linked plot to attack U.S. and other Western diplomatic missions in Jordan in 2003 and served seven years in prison; his group is outlawed in Jordan.

Update: Combined from the CNN and HLN live blogs -- A Saudi national with a leg wound was under guard at a Boston hospital in connection with the bombings at the Boston Marathon, but investigators cannot say he is involved at this time and he is not in custody. In addition, law enforcement officers are on the lookout for a "darker-skinned or black male" with a possible foreign accent in connection with the bombings. The man was seen with a black backpack and sweatshirt and was trying to get into a restricted area about five minutes before the first explosion. And authorities are also searching for a Penske truck that was denied access to the marathon before the blasts.

People trying to locate friends and family are urged to call the Mayor's Hotline at 617-635-4500, while anyone with information about the bombings is urged to call 800-494-TIPS.

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