BOSTON — Two bombs exploded simultaneously near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, killing two spectators and injuring 23 other onlookers and runners, authorities said.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said a third bomb exploded 1 hour, 40 minutes later at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library three miles across the city.
There were no casualties at the Kennedy Library, but Davis said police believe the bomb explosion there was related to the other two.
Nineteen of those injured at the marathon site were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. Six were reported in critical condition, five in serious condition. Several others were taken to medical tents set up to treat fatigued runners.
Davis said the marathon course bombs exploded at 2:50 p.m. in trash cans about 50 to 100 yards apart near the finish line on Boyleston street close to the Boston Public Library.
Witnesses reported a huge plume of white smoke, followed by a chaotic scene of screaming and crying by spectators lining the street and the runners approaching the end of their grueling 26.2-mile race.
Jill Harmacinski, a reporter covering the race for The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass., said the explosions sounded like gun shots. She said there was "blood all over Boylston Street" at and near the finish line.
"It was awful," said Harmacinski. "Everybody was running away from the smoke, and many of them were covered in blood. It was a confusing and scary scene."
President Obama phoned Gov. Duval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino after receiving a briefing from Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco on the situation.
"He offered the complete assistance of the FBI and all other federal agencies," the governor told a news conference. "Every resource at our disposal will be used to bring those responsible for this ghastly act to justice."
Witnesses said the explosions could be heard blocks away. Some said they sounded like cannon fire. Smoke from the bombs spread throughout the area, causing spectators and runners to choke and gag.
Runner Laura McLean of Toronto described a chaotic scene. "There are people who are really, really bloody," McLean said. "They were pulling them into the medical tent."
Cherie Falgoust, who was waiting at the finish line for her runner husband, said the explosions came from a nearby building, perhaps the Lenox Hotel.
"I don't know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere," She said. "Something hit my head. I don't know what it was. I just ducked."
Almost 27,000 runners from 96 countries competed in the marathon, a signature event for Boston and the world running community. The elite runners, including the winners in both the men's and women's divisions, had finished the race two to three hours before the explosions.
Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass., and witnesses.