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Tens of Thousands of Spectators, Runners Disperse After Deadly Boston Blasts

April 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
After two devices were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, tens of thousands of runners and spectators had to be diverted from the disaster, many leaving behind bags or luggage to speed their retreat. Gwen Ifill talks to Scott Malone of Reuters about the scene at the blast.

GWEN IFILL: For more, we turn to Scott Malone of Reuters, who was on the scene in Boston. I spoke with him a few minutes ago.

Scott Malone of Reuters, thank you so much for joining us.

What is the best, most recent information we have on what happened today?

SCOTT MALONE, Reuters: Well, what we’re hearing from Boston Police Department at this point in time confirmed is two people dead, 23 injured, getting unconfirmed reports that Boston hospitals have admitted significantly more people than that.

Right now, they say that there were two devices that went off at the finish line of the marathon. There was a third incident. It’s not clear yet if it was related, which happened at the John F. Kennedy Library. That’s located about three miles away from the marathon site.

GWEN IFILL: Scott, where were you when this happened?

SCOTT MALONE: I was in the press room at the hotel which is kind of the staging area for the marathon. We heard two blasts. One was relatively loud. The other one was somewhat softer.

At first, didn’t know what to make of them, and then very quickly it became clear what had happened.

GWEN IFILL: The police commissioner said that there was also at least one controlled detonation that happened after the first two explosions. What was that for?

SCOTT MALONE: We don’t know. They’re not giving a lot of information out on that. The one point that they did make is once the blasts started, people tried to escape quickly, as you would imagine they would in such a situation.

And many people who might have been carrying a backpack or something like that just decided they didn’t need that extra weight as they got out of there. So there’s a lot of luggage and small parcels that have been left around. And the police are treating all of them as suspicious devices until proven otherwise.

GWEN IFILL: Have the police said anything about how they’re gathering information, videotape, any eyewitness that may have seen someone planting any of these devices?

SCOTT MALONE: They haven’t offered a lot on that.

I mean, this is a public place. There were tens of thousands of people probably, you know, passing through the area through the course of the day. So it’s just a tremendous number of people who, you know, could have had the opportunity to see something.

GWEN IFILL: In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, did people just — did people understand what was happening? Did they scatter? Was it chaotic or people just calmly file away? You’re talking about tens of thousands of people.

SCOTT MALONE: They got out of there, you know, fairly, fairly quickly.

I think, you know when you have the first blast, it’s a little bit, you know, people don’t necessarily know what had happened, but when you have got two in fairly quick succession, that is a very different matter, I think, for the average person. We saw people — you know, many people were injured. We saw people running — you know, running from the scene. I wouldn’t — yes.

GWEN IFILL: Where did all the runners go?

SCOTT MALONE: They have just dispersed into the area.

Typically, at the end of the race, there are buses that bring their spare clothing to the finish line. And those are all locked down and being secured, so — and being checked. So, runners are just left kind of to kind of make their way to someplace warm.

GWEN IFILL: And if you were a relative or a loved one or someone who is just a spectator at the race, how did you go about finding the person, the people who were running? Was there a local place where they were all directed, where you could find each other?

SCOTT MALONE: There were — early on, I believe that some people — they were — the race officials said that they were continuing to direct runners to the family reunion area, a different route from the race route. Some people may have done that. Others may have simply tried to return to their homes.

GWEN IFILL: And, finally, Scott, do we know anything tonight about a suspect or a motive or any other explanation for what we saw happen today?

SCOTT MALONE: No. We have heard — we have heard nothing from the police on any of those matters yet.

GWEN IFILL: OK. Scott Malone of Reuters, thank you so much.

SCOTT MALONE: Thank you for having me. Good night.

JEFFREY BROWN: We will have more on this still developing story later in the program.