Northern Ireland people tell of Boston bomb ordeals

Scene of Boston blasts The explosions happened near the finish line of the marathon

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People from Northern Ireland have been describing their ordeals as they were caught up in Boston's Marathon Day bombing.

Three people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the blasts.

The FBI described it as a "potential terrorist inquiry".

Former boxing world champion Eamon Loughran, from Ballymena, County Antrim was in Boston for the marathon. He said he prayed for three hours as he waited to find out if his wife was safe.

Mr Loughran had arranged to meet his wife, Angela, by the flags at the finish line, exactly where the first device exploded.

He said he went back to his hotel, and said they both burst out crying when she walked through the door several hours later.

Former Ireland correspondent of the Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen, said the father of a young boy who died in the blasts, had just finished the race.

"When he finished the race his young son left the sidewalk, he went on to Boylston Street and hugged his dad and then he went back on the sidewalk and his father went on to register his time," he said.

"The bomb exploded, the boy was killed, his mother was severely injured."

Mr Cullen said he knew a firefighter who picked up the dead boy's sister.

"My friend the firefighter picked the girl up and carried her to an ambulance," he added.

"He said that when he put her down he realised her leg was missing.

"He is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and he told me what he saw today was worse than anything he saw in a warzone."

James McDaid from Coleraine is a surgeon at the main hospital in Boston - Massachusetts General.

"Earlier on things were on high alert but now it seems things are settling down a little and the number of casualties is relatively manageable," he said.

"A couple of hours ago it was real pandemonium here, non-stop sirens, police and ambulances all around the place, but now I hear a siren once every five or 10 minutes.

"The emergency room has been very busy. I saw 20 or 30 ambulances go by, but with regard to exactly how many casualties came to Massachusetts I'm not quite sure. I have heard reports of 20, 30 or 40 in that region."

A command centre was set up at the hospital in the aftermath of the bombings.

"People have been very emotionally charged," Mr McDaid added.

"A number of people have been contacting their loved ones to make sure they are ok.

"I called my wife to make sure she was ok, with the kids at home.

"Being from Northern Ireland bombs are something that will never be commonplace, but it is something that we are perhaps somewhat familiar with whereas here in Boston it is something that really is alien to people and it brings back echoes of 9/11 in New York, so people are upset about it in the hospital."

"There are police swat teams everywhere, outside every major hotel in the centre. The streets are eerily empty. The mayor of Boston has asked for people not to gather in large crowds, not to come out unless they have to. This was supposed to be a time of celebration and I think to understand the devastation that there now is here, imagine and contrast that with the sense of anticipation and jubilation that there was just a couple of days ago because this isn't just a marathon for the people of Boston, this is a marathon that people travel to from all over the world.

Panic

Newry man Sean Smith was among those who took part in the marathon.

"I went with Sports Travel International, I was running the marathon for my local charity, the Southern Area Hospice," he said.

He added: "It's a wee bit chaotic at the minute to be quite honest, there's a lot of people quite worried about their loved ones."

Bangor man Stephen Purdy said he did not know there had been any explosions until he phoned his wife after completing the marathon.

"I just went back to the hostel and got showered and changed and phoned my wife - she was in tears and my son answered," he said.

"She was just so glad to hear from me, she told me then there had been an explosion.

"So it is a bit of a shock."

Security

The first explosion came at about 14:50 local time (18:50 GMT) on the north side of Boylston Street, about two hours after the winners crossed the line.

Then seconds later, a second explosion ripped into the crowd further away from the finishing line.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said the Irish Consulate in Boston was in contact with the city's authorities to establish whether any Irish people have been injured in the explosions.

According to the official Boston Marathon website, 50 competitors listed Ireland as their country of residence, and 108 listed Ireland as their country of citizenship.

The department has advised anyone who is concerned to contact them.

About 375 Britons were listed as taking part, but there has no been no confirmation of any British casualties.

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