Updated March 23 at 6:25am
homeland security

Boston bombing site scoured for clues with no motive in hand


BOSTON - Authorities said they haven’t determined the motive or perpetrators behind yesterday’s explosions at the Boston Marathon as evidence suggested the bombs were built inside metal pressure cookers and designed to maim as many people as possible.

President Barack Obama in his second televised statement on the attack in less than 18 hours said that the investigation will find those responsible for the attack that killed three people and injured more than 170, though it may take time.

“This was a heinous and cowardly act and, given what we now know took place, the FBI is investigating this as an act of terrorism,” the president said in a statement in the White House briefing room. “We don’t have a sense of motive yet, so everything at this point is speculation.”

Law enforcement officials investigating the two explosions near the finish line of the race believe at least one of the devices may have been contained in a metal pressure cooker and hidden in a backpack or duffel bag, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the matter who asked for anonymity to discuss details.

Some victims had 40 or more fragments of pellet and nail- like shrapnel embedded in their bodies, said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. The fragments were uniform, indicating that they came from the two blasts and not from the surrounding environment, he said in a news briefing today.

Amputated Limbs

Doctors at the facility, one of many in the area to receive patients after the blast, have performed four amputations and may do two more, he said.

William C. Mackey, surgeon in chief at Tufts Medical Center, said at a briefing that each shard removed becomes part of the investigation and is turned over to authorities.

“In the operating room last night, the nurses were very careful to isolate all the foreign bodies that were removed from the wounds, put them in a specimen container with the patient’s name and turn those over to the police.”

The bombing was one of the highest-profile acts of terror in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and Washington. Police said they didn’t have suspects, and no organization claimed responsibility. U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials have said there had been no indications of a plot beforehand.

Bag searches

The nation was on heightened alert. A terminal at New York’s LaGuardia Airport was evacuated because of a suspicious package and a US Airways Group Inc. flight was stopped on the tarmac and diverted to a remote location at Boston’s Logan Airport so authorities could search a bag.

“Yesterday we deployed our critical resources to hotels,” Ray Kelly, New York’s police commissioner, said at a news conference today. “We also patrolled houses of worship, sigificant infrastructure and city iconic potential targets -- Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building. We have increased our coverage in the subways; we have the second largest transit system in the world. We’re doing bag searches in the system.”

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