Three explosions erupted at the famed Boston Marathon today, killing two people, injuring dozens more and turning the race into what looked like a war zone.
The casualties were caused by two bombs that exploded almost simultaneously near the race finish line on Boylston Street before 3 p.m. The area was crowded with runners and spectators, and thousands of runners were still completing the race at the time of the first explosion.
Police said that two people were killed and 23 injured.
A third explosion occurred later at John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, but no one was injured, police said.
Authorities are investigating the cause of all three explosions.
Winslow Townson/AP Photo
A scene of the Boston Marathon, where explosions were reported near the finish line of the race on April 15, 2013.
According to law enforcement sources, the first bomb exploded at the Marathon Sports running store, and blew out windows in four nearby buildings, injuring 15 to 20 individuals. The second blast occurred about 50 to 100 yards away, severely injuring more bystanders, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis.
Authorities believe they were caused by small portable devices, sources told ABC News.
Police are asking for all video footage of the finish line at the time of the explosion.
At least 23 people have been confirmed injured and six are in critical condition, police said.
An emergency room doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital told ABC News that they have performed several amputations already, particularly on victims whose legs were injured. Many of the victims are runners still wearing numbers on their shirts, the doctor said.
He described the injuries as “shrapnel-type wounds” as possibly caused by “pipe bombs,” though police have not confirmed that description.
Earlier, trauma nurse from Massachusetts General Hospital told ABC News that medical workers had set up a temporary morgue at a medical tent at the road race and were treating patients with severed limbs and children with severe burns.
Boston EMS personnel could be seen shuttling the injured out of the blast area on wheelchairs. Several of the victims were bleeding from the face.
A doctor who was in the medical tent, about 150 yards away from the explosion, at the time said it looked like a “warzone,” with “lots of blood,” and said that all physicians were told to go to the scene and help the injured.
Boston police set off a third explosion before 4 p.m. and were sweeping the area, checking dozens of bags left behind by runners who evacuated the area after the explosions. Officials are also testing for chemicals to help determine what kind of device was used, according to police.
Attorney General Eric Holder was in touch with the FBI in Boston and President Obama was notified of the blasts. All of Boston’s police force was ordered to report to duty.
Security precautions were taken elsewhere beyond Boston. In Washington DC, Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has been closed to pedestrians and there is heightened security.
In Boston, police have told people in area to avoid trash cans, according to witnesses.
The explosions erupted on what is usually a festive day in Boston. It is designated Patriots Day and most offices are closed for the celebration and the marathon.
Debris from the explosions could be seen scattered throughout the spectators stands and finish line area of the marathon as emergency personnel cleared the area.
Video of the explosions showed plumes of white smoke pouring into the air above the street where runners were.
More than 26,00 runners were registered to compete in this year’s marathon. The marathon clock was at shortly after four hours at the time of the explosions, which is the average time it takes runners to complete the Boston race, potentially putting the greatest number of competitors at risk.
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