By Esme E. Deprez and Annie Linskey
NEW YORK - Bombings killed three people, injured scores and sent smoke and flame soaring near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, triggering an FBI investigation into what authorities described as an act of terror.
The explosions near Copley Square occurred as recreational runners were finishing about 2:50 p.m. local time yesterday, police said. Runners buffeted by the shock wave fell to the ground and one man walked away with clothes in tatters as white and orange fumes billowed into the air.
At least 140 people were hospitalized and as many as eight were in critical condition, officials said. Among the dead was an 8-year-old boy, the Boston Globe reported. A photo showed a gray-faced man, his thigh in a tourniquet, being rolled away in a wheelchair. His lower leg was mere shreds.
“This is the sort of carnage you expect to see in war,” Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital, said at a news briefing. Peter Fagenholz, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, said in a news briefing that many of the wounded had shrapnel injuries and doctors had performed several amputations.
Witnesses described a joyous scene turned hellish as spectators watched runners finishing one of the greatest sporting challenges in the U.S.
Phil Kirkpatrick, a 59-year-old from Nashville, was watching the race when the blast blew his mobile phone out of his hand. He looked down to see a piece of flesh about the size of a button on his blood-spattered jeans, he said. Then, he looked up to see a man with his foot blown off and a medic trying to revive a woman with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“There were some very hurt people,” he said.
Martin Richard, an 8-year-old from nearby Dorchester, was killed in the bombing, which also injured his mother and sister, the Globe said.
Boston police had largely cleared the area where the blasts occurred last night and had no suspect in custody, Commissioner Ed Davis said at a news briefing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken charge of the case, said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the bureau’s Boston office.
“It is a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation,” he said.
Authorities were questioning a foreigner with an expired student visa, though he wasn’t a suspect or “person of interest,” said a federal law-enforcement official who asked not to be identified because the official wasn’t authorized to speak as the investigation was continuing.
An apartment in the suburb of Revere was searched by police and several bags removed, Boston television station WBZ reported. The Revere Fire Department said it responded to a local address to assist “State Police Bomb Techs for a search of a ‘person of interest’ apartment in the town, according to a post on the fire company’s Facebook page.
“We still do not know who did this or why,” President Barack Obama said in a briefing at the White House. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
While he didn’t use the word terrorism to describe the attack, an administration official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said the bombings are being investigated as an act of terror.