New Brunswickers are recalling the chaos that ensued on Monday afternoon following twin explosions near the Boston Marathon’s finish line, which killed three people and wounded more than 170 others.
Louise Thibideau of Petit-Rocher was one of about 40 New Brunswickers registered to run in the marathon.
She said she had just crossed the finish line of the race when the first explosion happened.
"I heard a huge boom. I could feel under my feet the earth shaking for a second," she said.
"So I turn around and I seen there was a huge, huge smoke."
Thibideau said it was a terrifying time because she knew her brother, Donald, was waiting somewhere near the finish line to congratulate her on completing the marathon.
They found each other in the confusion and followed orders to move away from the area.
"I heard my name. They saw me. We were very emotional I'll tell you. I said to my brother, ‘I was never that happy to see you,’" she said.
U.S. federal authorities are now searching for suspects. The FBI said Tuesday it is co-ordinating a "worldwide investigation" into the twin bomb blasts.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the FBI is treating the near-simultaneous explosions as an act of terrorism. "Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror," he said on Tuesday.
On Monday, Obama said: "We still do not know who did this, or why. People shouldn't jump to conclusions before we have all the facts."
"But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this — we'll 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."
‘Horror and evil’
Other New Brunswickers recalled their immediate thoughts after the bombs exploded.
Canadians in Boston
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Former New Brunswick health minister Michael Murphy was also in Boston with his family and was near the finish line at the time of the explosions.
"Moira, Tim and I ok. 1st explosion 75 yards to our right. 2nd one 50 ft away. Horror and evil. Pray for all dead and injured," Murphy said on his Twitter account.
Murphy, who didn't sleep all night, said in an interview on Tuesday morning that he quickly saw the traumatic effects of the bomb blasts.
"When you see people calmly holding their leg at their knee with the rest of their leg gone. When you see clothes burning to somebody and what I believe was that young child [who died], we don’t have a lot of problems where we live up north," he said.
Murphy and his wife, Moira, were at the finish line of the prestigious marathon waiting for their son Timothy to finish. Murphy had his video camera out, ready to record the moment, when he saw the first explosion in the distance.
Before he could register what was happening, the second blast came, across the street, about 15 feet away.
In the pandemonium that followed, the Murphys wouldn't find their son for another two hours.
Once the bombs exploded, Murphy described how the area around the finish line was packed with police and other first responders. He said his son was hit, but not injured, by an ambulance that was trying to get to the scene.
Murphy and his wife have run several marathons in the past and had enjoyed being in large crowds of up to 50,000 people during races. But he said the bombings have changed that.
"That is something that we will never do again, whatever has happened down here will have the same effect on large events and marathons around the world that 9/11 had on air traffic," he said.
"It was a terrible scene."
While a worldwide search is ongoing to find out who planned the Boston bombings, Murphy said whoever orchestrated the attacks represents the "embodiment of evil."
Lloyd English, a runner from Hampton, said he heard the bombs several minutes after he crossed the finish line.
"Right after the explosion, it's just a sick feeling," he said.
"The first thing you think of is 9/11 and, OK, can this really be happening here?"
Saint John's Alex Coffin was an early-finisher, who cleared the race just before the attack.
"As soon as I drove out of the Boston area, my cell phone was getting flooded with calls," Coffin said.
"I know a lot of people were worried about their friends. So I was getting messages, 'Did you see so and so?' When I finally got back and heard through Facebook that everyone was OK, that was great to hear."
Coffin said Boston is the ultimate and most popular race for aspiring Maritime runners — people like Saint John trainee Judy Barr, who says she is not dissuaded from chasing that dream.
"It probably incites me to work harder in a way," said Barr. "This kind of activity so close to where we live makes you think that you've got to push back on it a bit, right?"