(BOSTON, MA) — Two people were killed and 23 injured by a pair of bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon this afternoon.
The blasts occurred shortly before 3 p.m. near the finish line of the annual race, on Boylston Street, which was crowded with runners and spectators, according to police. Thousands of runners were still completing the race at the time of the first explosion.
According to law enforcement sources, the first blast was at the Marathon Sports running store before 3 p.m., and blew out windows in four nearby buildings, injuring 15 to 20 individuals.
About 10 second later, a second explosion occurred, severely injuring more bystanders, police said.
Authorities believe they were caused by small portable devices, sources told ABC News.
At least 23 people have been confirmed injured and six are in critical condition, police said. A 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.