Update: The Boston Marathon bombing

Some information that has developed overnight in the Boston Marathon bombings:

The authorities are still trying to coordinate with various hospitals to gain a full account of the injuries.  Three people are confirmed dead, including an 8-year-old boy named Martin Richard, who had come to watch his father Bill run in the marathon.  Martin’s mother and sister were also severely injured in the blast.  (Update: the UK Daily Mail reports that Martin’s mother, Denise Richard, has undergone brain surgery, while his 6-year-old sister Jane lost her leg.  Another article at the Boston Globe gives this unbearable account of the little boy’s death, passed along by firefighters: he went out to hug his father as he crossed the finish line, but “the dad walked on; the boy went back to the sidewalk to join his mom and his little sister; and then the bomb went off.”)

The Boston Globe says over 130 people have been injured, but other reports put the total as over 144, including at least 10 with amputated limbs.  A state trooper quoted by the Associated Press grimly reports seeing “at least 25 to 30 people” with “at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing” while he was rendering emergency assistance at the scene of the attack.

“About 30 people were transferred to hospitals under a Code Red, meaning life-threatening injuries, which may point to a rising death toll,” a law-enforcement official told the Globe.

Another sad detail provided by the Globe: “Relatives of those killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre were guests at the finish line tent, near where the bombing occurred; a theme of this year???s marathon was ???26 Miles for 26 Victims,??? referring to those killed in the Newtown, Conn., shooting.”

Mercifully, it does not appear that any chemical, biological, or radiological agents were packed into the bombs, and contrary to early reports, they don’t seem to have been stuffed with nails or other fragmentation weapons.  However, the Associated Press relates a report from a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in which he saw “what appears to be small, uniform, round objects throughout it – similar in appearance to BBs” in an X-ray of one victim’s leg.  This soon after such a horrific event, it’s not easy to tell which reports should be considered authoritative.

There are still conflicting reports coming from different sources about how many bombs were involved in the attack.  Two bombs went off.  Fox News says a “first responder” confirmed that a total of five explosive devices were found in the area, but CNN quotes U.S. Rep. Bill Keating of Massachusetts, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, saying there were only two un-detonated bombs: one near a hotel on Boylston Street, the other at an “undisclosed location.”  (Update: In a Tuesday morning press conference, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick contradicted all of these reports by declaring, “Two, and only two, explosive devices were found yesterday… there were no unexploded devices found.”)

Keating went on to describe the bombing as a “sophisticated, coordinated, planned attack.”  The Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, Richard DesLauriers, said the Bureau was running a “criminal investigation” that is also “a potential terrorist investigation,” asserting federal jurisdiction through the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force.  A senior White House official told Fox News, “When multiple devices go off, that’s an act of terrorism.”  Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she believes “the attacks bear all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.”  Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), current chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, agreed with Collins’ assessment.  The former chair of House Homeland Security,

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), told Politico, “The definite feeling right now is that it’s al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda affiliated group.  But again, it could be somebody else, but that’s the feeling right now.  All the signs are there: two attacks, sophisticated weapons, they were able to breach security… it was very sophisticated.”

However, President Obama declined to characterize the bombing as a terror attack during his statement last night, and more remarkably, Matt Boyle at Breitbart News reports that the Department of Homeland Security has not issued a terror alert through the National Terrorism Advisory System website.  This would seem to be precisely the sort of situation that NTAS was created for.

The Boston Globe has some more information about the “person of interest” held at a Boston hospital:

The person questioned in the hospital was a Saudi national, who was report­edly tackled and held by a ­bystander after he was seen running from near the scene of the explosion, said a law enforce­ment source who spoke with someone involved in the FBI???s investigation.

The Saudi man, believed to be a university student in ­Boston, is cooperating with the FBI and told agents that he was not involved in the explosions, and that he ran only because he was frightened. Investigators did not characterize the man as a suspect. No one had been ­arrested or charged by late Monday night.

According to CNN, a search involving bomb experts, the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; state and local police; and immigration officials took place at an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  Unspecified “items” were removed from the apartment during the search.  It’s not clear whether this apartment is linked to the Saudi university student.  MyFox Boston adds that “police were seen carrying several large bags” from the apartment.