By Esme E. Deprez, Drew Armstrong & Annie Linskey
Powerful explosions killed two and injured 23 near the finish of the Boston Marathon, police said.
The first blast near Copley Square caused a huge puff of white smoke and was followed by a smaller one. Police at the corner of Boylston Street and Clarendon Street said there were many casualties.
“There were two bombs that exploded near the finish line in today’s Boston Marathon,” according to statement on the race’s website. “We are working with law enforcement to understand what exactly has happened.”
President Barack Obama was notified of the attack and directed federal authorities to provide whatever assistance is needed, according to a White House statement.
The Boston Globe reported on its Twitter feed that police found other explosives, and a third blast was heard after the area was secured.
Phil Kirkpatrick, a 59-year-old from Nashville with blood on his jeans and shoes, said he was watching his girlfriend race when the explosions went off.
“I was standing just there and something blew up on the street,” he said. “There was a large explosion and a white flash. It blew us all back onto each other. It was so loud, I still can’t hear out of my right ear. I was crawling on the sidewalk, and my cell phone blew out of my hand. There were some really hurt people.”
He was taken a medical tent, and saw a man with his foot blown off.
Dan O’Gara was working at Marathon Sports, a running store on Boylston Street, next door to where an explosion went off and said three injured people were brought into the store with cuts on their arms and legs. Employees bandaged them with shirts.
“I took a peek out the window and I could see at least four or five people on the ground bleeding,” O’Gara said.
Walter Antos, of Boulder, Colorado, said the explosion about a block away was “100 times louder than thunder.”
Runners were directed off the course and not able to finish, he said.
After the blasts, athletes walking away from the race course began running again.
An online broadcast showed dozens of U.S. military personnel had been patrolling the route.
The marathon, first run in 1897, is considered the most prestigious in the U.S. It attracts about 20,000 runners each year, most of whom have met a qualifying standard in another race. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race; Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won the men’s.
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