Tragedy struck the historic Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, April 15 in the form of two horrific explosions, a development that had the potential to affect Midcoast runners, their families and friends.

By Tuesday, many of the local runners who participated in the event, along with their families, were confirmed to be unharmed.

There are news reports that more than 170 people have been injured and at least three have died, including an 8-year-old boy, from the blasts, one of which occurred near the finish line of the 117th, 26.2-mile event.

There also are reports that some of those injured had amputated limbs.

The explosions occurred at 2:53 p.m.

According news sources, two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers in the trek were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

Competitors and race organizers were crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners.

About three hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another thunderous explosion could be heard a few seconds later.

Other news sources confirmed there were five explosive devices, three of which did not detonate.

What was to be an annual day of celebration of distance running in this historic city turned into a day of death, destruction, sadness and anger over what is now being called terrorist act.

A festive atmosphere quickly turned chaotic and frightening.

The city continues to be on heightened alert. A 15-block area around Copley Square has been closed off and is being treated as crime scene.

Anyone with a story to tell, photos or video from the event, should submit them to news@villagesoup.com.

According to televised news conferences, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said the explosions were an "attack against the city of Boston."

The officials said there were two seemingly simultaneous explosions, within 50 yards of each other on Boylston Street. A third explosion on that street was a controlled detonation by officials. The two blasts came a few seconds apart.

There was another explosion and fire at the JFK Library, but officials state that is not linked to the Boylston Street explosions. Officials said there was no warning before the explosions.

Most of the most severe injuries occurred behind the flags displayed along Boylston Street at the finish line of the historic race, according to reports.

Initial reports said law enforcement officials were guarding, at a city hospital, what they termed a potential bombing suspect, who was taken to the hospital with shrapnel injuries. But Commissioner Davis said that is untrue.

Cell phone use was not shut down in the city to prevent accidental detonation of other possible hidden devices, as earlier reported by several news sources.

Valerie Libby from Verizon Wireless said customers may have experienced cellular connectivity issues but that her company has been "enhancing network voice capacity to enable additional calling in the Copley Square area of Boston. Customers are advised to use text or email to free up voice capacity for public safety officials at the scene. There was no damage to the Verizon Wireless network, which is seeing elevated calling and data usage throughout the [Northeast] region since the explosions occurred."

Officials said families of victims can call 617-635-4500, while those with information on the cause of the explosions should call 1-800-494-8477. To donate blood, go to redcrossblood.org.

According to Katherine A. Gulotta of the FBI's Boston Division, "A multi-agency response, including state and federal law enforcement agencies, has been activated and is investigating the cause of the explosions along the Boston Marathon route and elsewhere. The FBI’s Boston Division stands with the Boston Police Department and remains on-scene. The FBI is offering its assistance in whatever capacity BPD requires. The situation remains fluid and it remains too early to establish the cause and motivation."

The FBI has set up 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3, for anyone who has information, visual images, and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston Marathon route and elsewhere. No piece of information or detail is too small.

In a special television broadcast to the nation April 15, President Barack Obama said officials do not yet have all the answers. He said, "on days like this, there are no Republicans or Democrats: we are all united as one."

The president said all Americans stand with the people of Boston. "Today is Patriots Day: Boston is a tough and resilient town. We will stand with them every step of the way … We will find out who did this and hold them accountable."

Read the President's entire Monday and Tuesday statements below.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of North Haven said,"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the bombings in Boston today, their families and all the innocent people who were affected by this horrible act of violence. I join all Mainers in hoping for a quick recovery for those injured and my heart goes out to those families that have lost a loved one in the attacks today… I also want to recognize the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and EMTs who responded and undoubtedly saved countless lives. We are grateful for their service."

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King released the following statement:

“Like all Americans, we are shocked and deeply saddened by the deplorable and heinous act of violence that occurred at the Boston Marathon today. As we struggle to comprehend this senseless tragedy, and as we continue to gather more information, we hold the families and the loved ones of those lost firmly in our thoughts, and we continue to pray for the full recovery of everyone who has been injured.

“As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, we will be continually updated of the situation. In the meantime, initial press reports that multiple improvised explosive devices may have been involved at this high profile national event bear the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.

“We stand united as Americans in our unfaltering support of one another.”

Additionally, the Boston Bruins hockey game scheduled for the night of April 15 was postponed. The Boston Red Sox game was held earlier that day at Fenway Park. The Boston Celtics game scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 also was canceled.

Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage issued the following statement:

“It is a very sad Patriots Day in Boston. Ann and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured in today’s horrific act of violence. For the many Mainers who are in Boston today we hope you are safe.

"I have been in contact with Director Rob McAleer of the Maine Emergency Management Agency who is monitoring the situation and keeping me apprised of any developments. MEMA staff is on standby in the case they are called to assist."

LePage ordered the flags of the United States and state of Maine be flown at half-staff until sunset Saturday, April 20, in accordance with a presidential proclamation. On April 16, President Obama issued a proclamation as a mark of respect for the victims of the explosions.

Courier Publications/VillageSoup has reached out to the Midcoast runners who were registered for the race, as well as their families, to find how they are and what they know about the explosions.

The 117th running of the Boston Athletic Association's Boston Marathon started at 9:30 a.m. Monday and the fabled event included a bundle of veteran marathoners and other area runners who participated for the first time.

The Midcoast Boston Marathon qualifiers included: David Bates, 26, Tenants Harbor; Kirby F. Davis, 28, Camden; Douglas C. Johnstone, 64, Camden; Amanda R. Labelle, 29, Rockland; Scott F. Layton, 37, Rockport; Carol S. Manley, 58, Washington; Emily H. McDevitt, 48, Camden; Joanie L. Rhoda, 59, Washington; Ellen R. Spring, 60, Thomaston; Andrea Wilhelm, 32, Lincolnville; Eric Kangas, 51, Camden; and Theresa L. Withee, 46, Rockland.

Additionally, Courier Publications communicated with Gary Allen of Cranberry Island, Maine, who is fine (see his comments below).

There were other native Midcoast residents, who now live elsewhere, who also participated.

Photographs at the finish line during that explosion showed the race time clock at 4:09:52, which is four hours, nine minutes and 52 seconds elapsed in the race, not the time of day.

Johnstone, for example, finished at 4:04:50, so he would have been near the finish area when that explosion occurred. He reported he is fine.

Other area runners, including Withee, were a few miles from the finish a few minutes after the explosion and had family near the finish waiting for her arrival.

On Facebook, Withee stated April 16 she has reunited with her husband and her family is safe.

"I'm home," she said. "Glad to be here. Support from my community at home is as wonderful as it was while I was in Boston. Thank you from the bottom of [my] heart to everyone. There are people to thank whose names I don't know who helped me when I had no one else. Strangers in a city that was as confused as I was. A woman who gave me socks to use as arm warmers, a young man who gave me the sweatshirt off his back to the women who huddled with me for strength and understanding. I am glad to hug my children today."

Kangas finished in less than three hours and 25 minutes, well before the explosions.

Reade Brower of Camden, a local runner, has been in contact with Johnstone and said Johnstone was not harmed, though the bomb went off less than five minutes after Johnstone crossed the finish line.

"He was within minutes of [the explosion]," said Brower of Johnstone. "He said one of the bombs was underneath the bleachers that he and [friends] Carol [Manley] and Sarah [Andrus] were sitting on yesterday watching the one-mile and 5K [races].

"He was right there when it happened," Brower said of Johnstone. "It was kind of eerie to him that just 24 hours earlier he was sitting in those bleachers."

Brower said, according to Johnstone, "They stopped the marathon immediately after bombs went off and people were diverted from the finish line and told to stop running."

Brower said Withee and her husband also were uninjured.

"Theresa and her husband are OK," said Brower. "They're not united yet [as of Monday afternoon], but they're both OK. They both checked in [at designated checkpoints]. Theresa was on the course and Charles was on a side street."

Susan Bates, mother of Tenants Harbor runner David Bates, said her son "is just fine," after speaking to him following the race.

Kangas, who phoned Courier Publications, reported he is fine and had received a text message from Labelle, who also was unharmed.

Kangas, who "had probably finished the race only 20 minutes before," was walking into the Prudential Building nearby when the explosion occurred.

"After I finished I got my clothes from the bus, went to the changing room, put on a shirt and I no sooner got into the building before total chaos broke out," Kangas said.

Spring, an avid runner and Boston Marathon veteran, said she was "fine" following the events.

"I hadn't gotten to the finish line at the time that it'd happened," she said. "I was at about the 20-mile mark or so."

Spring estimated she was around 6.2 miles from the finish line at the time of the explosions.

"Some of the police or volunteers told us we had to stop right there," she said. "We were like in Newton somewhere and [they told us] that there had been bombings and they had called off the race."

Spring said several of the racers were loaded into a van and shuttled to Boston College Law School and were then sent by bus to the Newton Town Office, which was being used as a shelter for runners.

From there, they were shuttled back to Boston College and eventually back into the city, which had, by that time, been opened back up to traffic.

"It wasn't panic exactly," said Spring of the tone miles away from the finish line. "It was more like being shocked and being so sad about what had happened. They knew then that two people had been killed and that there were a lot of injuries, so people kept trying to update us as to what was going on."

Spring credited the medical staff, who kept runners informed, fed and hydrated throughout the process. They were also supplied with blankets, which were intended to be given to the runners at the conclusion of the race.

"You never expect anything like that to happen in a race," Spring said. "You're so focused on finishing the race and getting to the end and doing as well as you can that way, you never think they're going to call off the race because someone set off two bombs."

Spring said she had been in contact with Manley, who also was unharmed, numerous times through the ordeal.

Manley finished about 25 minutes before the blasts and summed it up as being "really loud."

"I had gone through the finish line chute [where] they channel everybody through this corral and you can't get out onto the street for quite a long distance," said Manley. You have to just keep moving along in the corral. I was probably at least a couple blocks away back toward my hotel when my friend Sarah and I heard the blasts."

It was not until they got back to their hotel room and received a phone call from Spring, whom Manley was sharing a hotel room with, that they realized what had transpired.

"She was able to borrow a phone and she called us to tell us they'd stopped the race," she said. "And we're like 'What do you mean they stopped the race?' And she said there were explosions at the finish line."

Area runners who finished the race were: Kirby F. Davis, 28, Camden, 2:39.09; Scott Layton, 37, Rockport, 2:55.55; Amanda Labelle, 29, Rockland, 3:17.57; David Bates, 26, Tenants Harbor, 3:17.58; Eric Kangas, 51, Camden, 3:25.03; Carol S. Manley, 58, Washington, 3:46.12; and Douglas C. Johnstone, 64, Camden, 4:04.17.

Wilhelm, according to the BAA.org website, did not start the race. Spring's last checkpoint was 30 kilometers before the race stopped and she was at 4:06.10 at that time. McDevitt's last checkpoint also was 30 kilometers before the race stopped and she was at 2:48.09 at that time. Rhoda's last checkpoint was 40 kilometers before the race stopped and she was at 4:16.50 at that time. Withee's last checkpoint was 40 kilometers before the race stopped and she was at 4:16.11 at that time.

Allen, who finished the course in 3:13:56, said he ran faster than he probably should have given his injured leg and level of fitness. This accounted for when he crossed the finish line.

About a half hour after he finished, the first of the two explosions detonated about 150 yards from the media center he had gone to at Fairmont Copley Plaza.

“It was big,” he said. “A loud audible boom.”

Allen said the explosion shook the building, and he now realizes he could have been there when it took place.

“A lot of people were there,” he said, adding that the images of those injured were “heartbreaking.”

He said he would gladly give back the medal he received for finishing the race if everyone could be OK.

He said the coverage of the event switched from celebratory to a somber day.

“People are in shock. It's very sad,” Allen said.

Allen, who ran from Bar Harbor to Washington, D.C. during the winter to raise money for various causes, said the second explosion came about 10 seconds after the first, leading him to believe it was a coordinated attack, though he said he did not know whether it was by domestic or foreign forces.

A water-cannon later was used on a suspicious device, so there was concern of more danger.

The runners in the race who had not finished were detoured off the route to hopefully be reunited with their families. Allen said the building he was in, when he spoke by phone with Courier Publications in the late afternoon Monday, had been “locked down” with no one allowed to enter or leave.

“This is a big day for tens of thousands of people,” he said. Allen, who founded the MDI Marathon, said this was his 21st Boston Marathon. He said the event is one of the greatest American traditions, going back 117 years.

He said he wonders how America can continue to hold events such as the Boston Marathon that attract large crowds that others might want to harm.

As for Allen, he said he is sure the full weight of this has not yet struck him.

“I'm exhausted,” he said. “I just poured myself into this marathon.” He said he is still covered in salt from the sweat of the event and now he is emotionally “wrecked” by what has happened.

“It's going to be a hard thing,” he said, anticipating the emotions he will later deal with.

 

Spring is a veteran of the 26.2-mile event, while several of the others, including Johnstone, Withee and Labelle, have participated in the marathon before. In fact, in recent years, Withee has crossed the course barefoot.

Bates, Johnstone, Labelle and Spring all qualified for last year's Boston Marathon, as well as the year before. Kangas also has qualified for the event several times in recent years.

Spring has been participating in the Boston Marathon for nearly two decades, as this year's race was her 19th straight and 21th overall.

The Boston Marathon is one of the most time-honored athletic traditions, not only in the Northeast, but in the country as runners from all over the world use the iconic race as a measuring stick for their talents.

The Boston Marathon annually draws about 25,000-28,000 runners. In 2011, 26,907 were registered and 26,655 participated in 2012. The course stretches from Hopkinton Center to Boylston Street in Boston.

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. The BAA manages the American classic, which is sponsored by John Hancock Financial Services. The Boston Marathon has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).

To qualify to run the Boston Marathon, entrants must run a qualifying time at a certified marathon. Qualifying times are determined by a runner's age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which they will be participating.

President Obama's April 16 remarks

Good morning, everybody. I've just been briefed by my national security team, including FBI Director [Robert] Mueller, Attorney General [Eric] Holder, Secretary [Janet] Napolitano, and my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, on the attacks in Boston. We continue to mobilize and deploy all appropriate law enforcement resources to protect our citizens, and to investigate and to respond to this attack.

Obviously our first thoughts this morning are with the victims, their families, and the city of Boston. We know that two explosions gravely wounded dozens of Americans, and took the lives of others, including an 8-year-old boy.

This was a heinous and cowardly act. And given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror. What we don’t yet know, however, is who carried out this attack, or why; whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual. That's what we don't yet know. And clearly, we’re at the beginning of our investigation.

It will take time to follow every lead and determine what happened. But we will find out. We will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice.

We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized. Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love: Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives. The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.” The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful. And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.

So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.

In the coming days, we will pursue every effort to get to the bottom of what happened. And we will continue to remain vigilant. I’ve directed my administration to take appropriate security measures to protect the American people. And this is a good time for all of us to remember that we all have a part to play in alerting authorities — if you see something suspicious, speak up.

I have extraordinary confidence in the men and women of the FBI, the Boston Police Department, and the other agencies that responded so heroically and effectively in the aftermath of yesterday’s events. I’m very grateful for the leadership of Governor Patrick and Mayor [Thomas] Menino. And I know that even as we protect our people and aggressively pursue this investigation, the people of Boston will continue to respond in the same proud and heroic way that they have thus far — and their fellow Americans will be right there with them.

Thank you very much. And you can expect further briefings from our law enforcement officials as the day goes on. When we have more details, they will be disclosed. What I’ve indicated to you is what we know now. We know it was bombs that were set off. We know that obviously they did some severe damage. We do not know who did them. We do not know whether this was an act of an organization or an individual or individuals. We don’t have a sense of motive yet. So everything else at this point is speculation. But as we receive more information, as the FBI has more information, as our out counterterrorism teams have more information, we will make sure to keep you and the American people posted.

Thank you very much, everybody.

President Obama's April 15 remarks

Good afternoon, everybody.

Earlier today, I was briefed by my homeland security team on the events in Boston. We’re continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds. And I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.

The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight. And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.

We don’t yet have all the answers. But we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.

I’ve spoken to FBI Director [Robert] Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security [Janet] Napolitano, and they’re mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond.

I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats — we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.

I’ve also spoken with Governor Patrick and Mayor [Thomas] Menino, and made it clear that they have every single federal resource necessary to care for the victims and counsel the families. And above all, I made clear to them that all Americans stand with the people of Boston.

Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak. It’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances. And we salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.

We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake — we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

Today is a holiday in Massachusetts — Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition. Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I'm supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.

You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. We're still in the investigation stage at this point. But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

Thank you very much.

Courier Publications staff members Daniel Dunkle, Beth Birmingham, Mark Haskell, Dagney Ernest, Ken Waltz and Juliette Laaka contributed to this story. Courier Publications news staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at news@courierpublicationsllc.com.