SA athlete describes Boston blast horror

2013-04-16 08:47
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Boston Marathon blasts

Two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon has killed two people and left more than 100 wounded.

Johannesburg - South African wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk witnessed a man having both his legs blown off in the Boston marathon blasts, he said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

"It was terrible," Van Dyk told 94.7 Highveld Stereo breakfast host Darren Simpson.

He was at a post-race celebration with some of his sponsors at a hotel overlooking the last stretch of the race when the explosions happened.

"Initially, we heard the first explosion... nobody was sure what it was. I thought it was like maybe premature fireworks or something and everyone went to the window," said Van Dyk.

'Incredible blast'

"As we stared out, the second explosion happened, right in front of our windows. An incredible blast - and immediately thereafter people were hurt.

"I saw a guy have both his legs blown off, lying on the road."

Van Dyk said he could not imagine who could be behind the blasts.

"It's the oldest marathon in the world. It's got so much history and you have to ask yourself who would be so sick...

"And they didn't really attack the runners. They attacked the spectators. They blew up the people that [were] watching the race and waiting for families and loved ones to come in."

Van Dyk said athletes were told to stay indoors on Monday night. He was heading for London on Tuesday.

"There's no reason to crawl into a hole.... I've got to go on and do what we do."

Van Dyk finished second in the men's wheelchair division.

The 40-year-old South African, in search of his 10th win at the historic event, edged Kota Hokinoue of Japan by one second to win the silver medal in 1:27:12.

Hokinoue's countryman Hiroyuki Yamamoto won the race in 1:25:33.

2 South Africans injured

The international relations and co-operation department said on Tuesday morning that two South African athletes were injured in the twin blasts in the United States.

"So far, we've been alerted to two South Africans that have been injured. Our information is that they are being treated and we are offering consular service to them," spokesperson Clayson Monyela told SABC radio news.

Twenty-eight South Africans registered for the race.

Another South African athlete, Rene Kalmer, told eNCA that she was having lunch after her race when she heard two explosions outside.

"It's really very emotional... it feels like we are in a movie, except that it is reality," Kalmer said in an interview posted on the eNCA website.

"We were sitting.... We were busy having lunch and we just heard the explosions going off and we weren't really sure what has happened, and then next thing the volunteers ran into the dining hall and just asked all the elite athletes to go upstairs to the hospitality room to make sure everyone is okay."

At least three people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the explosions, which took place near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, while the race was in progress.

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