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The dead included an 8-year-old boy, the Boston Globe reported, citing two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.
A 2-year-old was being treated with a head injury at Boston Children’s Hospital, the hospital said in a statement.
“It sounded like a sonic boom. I haven’t stopped shaking yet,” said Melissa Stanley, who watched her daughter cross the finish line four minutes before the explosions.
The blasts put police on alert in major cities across the United States, including in Washington, D.C. and New York City, sites of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“These were powerful devices that resulted in serious injury,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told reporters.
On Monday night, Davis said at least three people died and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said more than 100 people were wounded.
FBI Boston Special Agent In Charge Richard DesLauriers declined at a news conference to comment on media reports that police found several unexploded devices at the scene.
About an hour after the 2:50 p.m. EDT (1850 GMT) blasts in Boston’s Copley Square marred the usually joyous end to the marathon, a fire erupted at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library three miles (5 km) away, but no one was injured, police said. Authorities were uncertain whether the fire was related, Davis said.
In Washington, Obama told reporters, “Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this and we will find out who did this.”
He said “any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Justice Department, Homeland Security Department and other agencies were all investigating, authorities said.
Various officials in the United States and other countries reacted to the blasts
“ACT OF TERROR”
Without knowing who perpetrated the attack, the White House said it was handling the incident as “an act of terror.”
“Any event with multiple explosive devices - as this appears to be - is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror,” a White House official said.
The two explosions were about 50 to 100 yards (metres) apart as runners crossed the finish line with a timer showing 4 hours and 9 minutes, some 9 minutes faster than the average finish time, as reported by Runner’s World magazine.
Spectators typically line the 26.2 mile (42.19 km) race course, with the heaviest crowds near the finish line.
Mike Mitchell of Vancouver, Canada, a runner who had finished the race, said he was looking back at the finish line and saw a “massive explosion.”
Smoke rose 50 feet (15 metres) in the air, Mitchell said. People began running and screaming after hearing the noise, Mitchell said.
“Everybody freaked out,” Mitchell said.
The Boston Marathon has been held on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897. The event, which starts in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and ends in Boston’s Copley Square, attracts an estimated half-million spectators and some 20,000 participants every year.
Earlier on Monday, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the men’s and women’s events, continuing African runners’ dominance in the sport.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra cancelled Monday night’s concert and the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins canceled their home game against the Ottawa Senators. The Boston Red Sox had completed their Major League Baseball game at Fenway Park before the explosions.