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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 1:00pm

Boston Marathon Explosions: Thursday's Developments

(NPR will be streaming the FBI press conference live beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Click here to listen.)

Throughout the day, we'll be updating with the latest news about the two explosions Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blasts killed three people and injured about 180. We'll also be publishing related posts as the day continues. (See this note about how we cover events such as this.)

12:25 p.m. ET. Where Things Stand.

INVESTIGATION: While there has been no arrest as of this hour, The Boston Globe says authorities believe they are " 'very close' in their pursuit of the bomber," according to "an official briefed on the investigation ... who declined to be named." The Globe also reports it has been told by an official familiar with the case that authorities have images of two individuals who were seen carrying bags that might have contained the bombs and that those images may be released later Thursday. Later Thursday morning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed that "there is some video" of two men that has raised questions for the FBI and that investigators want to speak with those individuals. She did not call them suspects.

FBI investigators have said the key clue to finding who's responsible will likely come from a photo or video taken by a spectator. At the website of the FBI's Boston bureau, officials have posted this appeal for help: "If you have any information that could be of assistance, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI (prompt #3). No detail is too small."

EMERGENCY DECLARATION: "President Obama has signed an emergency declaration for the state of Massachusetts a move that frees up federal funding to help with crisis management," WBUR writes.

INTERFAITH SERVICE: At service Thursday morning in Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross, leaders from a cross-section of faiths spoke about the horror of the bombings and the heroism and selflessness of those who rushed to help. President Obama, who assured the people of Boston that the nation stands with them and said to those responsible for the attack that "we will find you," was there with first lady Michelle Obama. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a former governor of Massachusetts, is in attendance. We've put a copy of the program for the service below.

Update at 4:25 p.m. ET. FBI Will Release Photos:

An official familiar with the investigation tells NPR that the FBI is interested in speaking to two men seen in photos or videos of the scene near the finish line at the race.

According to the official, the FBI will release photos of the men during the press conference.

Both men are described as being in their 20s. Like Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the FBI has not described them as suspects.

Update at 4:03 p.m. ET. Number Of Critically Injured Down To 7:

The AP has some good news:

"Boston hospitals reported seven people in critical condition on Thursday, down from 14 on Wednesday."

According to CNN's count, about 60 people remained hospitalized.

Update at 3:46 p.m. ET. The Decision To Amputate:

No doubt one of the threads that we will follow for a long time to come will be the recovery of the bombing victims. As we've reported, many of them lost limbs in the attack.

WBUR spoke to Tracey Dechert, a trauma surgeon at Boston Medical Center, about the gut-wrenching decision to amputate.

She explained that in a lot of ways making the decision quickly can be better in the long run. It's still doesn't make the decision any easier.

"Of course you would want everyone to have all their limbs," Dechert told WBUR. "And even though you know down the road this is the best thing for them given the situation, it's still very sad, obviously, though."

On the same thread, The New York Times has a piece about how sports and war have inspired better design in prosthetics. The paper reports that 1,600 Americans lost limbs during the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Now, the vast body of knowledge gained from treating those troops is likely to help speed and improve the recovery of people whose limbs were amputated after Monday's attack," the Times reports.

Update at 3:06 p.m. ET. News Conference Scheduled:

The FBI has scheduled a news briefing for 5 p.m. in Boston. Of course, this is bound to change. If you remember, yesterday, the FBI scheduled press conferences but eventually called them off.

Update at 12:25 p.m. ET "We Will Find You" And You Won't Beat Us:

"We will find you and yes, you will face justice," the president promises the person or persons responsible for the bombings. "Small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build and somehow think that makes them more important" don't understand that "a bomb can't beat us," Obama adds.

"We will keep going ... we will finish the race," he also says, just like 78-year-old Bill Iffrig, the runner who the world saw get knocked over by one of the bomb blasts. Iffrig picked himself up and finished the last few yards of the marathon. "We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, Obama says, "but we will pick ourselves up." After his address, those in attendance sang "America the Beautiful" and the service came to a close.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. "They Picked The Wrong City":

The president gets a standing ovation when he says that if "whomever committed this heinous act" thought they could intimidate or terrorize anyone, "they picked the wrong city to do it!"

Boston, Obama says, will "stand and walk and yes, run again ... of that I have no doubt.. ... You will run again because that's what the people of Boston are made of. Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whomever committed this heinous act."

Update at 12:07 p.m. ET. "Every One Of Us Stands With You," Obama Says:

The president begins his remarks at the interfaith service by speaking of the beautiful day in Boston that in an instant, "was shattered."

"A celebration became a tragedy," Obama says. His message, the president continues, is that "every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you."

Update at 12:02 p.m. ET. Having Faith When Things Don't Make Sense:

His faith, says Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, teaches that "in everything, give thanks. That isn't always easy to do." But after Monday's "cowardice," he found reasons to give thanks for the first responders, the volunteers, the medical professionals, the police and most of all, the people of Boston who "let their first instinct be kindness."

"The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are," Patrick added just before introducing President Obama.

Update at 11:50 a.m. ET. Goodness In The Face Of Evil:

Monday's "act of senseless violence" is a reminder of the "darkness that can lurk in the human heart," says Cardinal Sean O'Malley, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston. But the way so many reacted is a reminder that "there resides in people's hearts a goodness that is incredibly selfless," he says. The cardinal is to be followed at the interfaith service by a performance from cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Update at 11:42 a.m. ET. "Blessed Are The Peacemakers":

The Gospel reading is from Matthew 5:1-12, and is read by Bishop John M. Borders III of Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, Mass.

Update at 11:38 a.m. ET. "Up To The Mountain."

A very emotional moment at the interfaith service: As the Boston Children's Chorus sings Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain," tears flow down the cheeks of one young singer's cheeks.

Update at 11:34 a.m. ET. "Joy Comes In The Morning":

The interfaith service continues. Even as God "allows hatred and fanaticism to have its moment, says Rev. Roberto Miranda of Congregacin Len de Jud in Roxbury, Mass., "in the end, goodness will always prevail. ... Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Reminder: We've posted the program for the interfaith service below.

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET. "We All Have Service To Perform":

Nasser S. Wedaddy, chair of the New England Interfaith Council and civil rights outreach director at the American Islamic Congress, also praises those "who stepped forward" and says "we all have service to perform. ... To heal, to rebuild and to serve once again as a shining city on the hill."

Update at 11:24 a.m. ET. A Mention Of The Tragedy In Texas:

Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Boston's Temple Israel includes a mention of those killed and injured Wednesday night in West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded. "Our arms are wide enough to hold you as well," he says.

Update at 11:22 a.m. ET. "May You Run And Not Grow Weary":

At the interfaith service, Rev. Nancy Taylor of Old South Church tells how her place of worship holds a service for Boston marathoners each year. The church sends the runners off with these words from the Prophet Isaiah: "May you run and not grow weary, may you walk and not grow faint." On Monday, she says, she saw marathoners running "toward the danger" and sacrificing themselves for others.

Update at 11:14 a.m. ET. Mayor Menino Has Never Loved Boston More Than Now:

His voice choking, Mayor Thomas Menino (D) says that after the bombings, "love has covered this resilient city. I have never loved it and its people more than I do today." He praises "the brave ones who felt the blast and still raced to the smoke." The love and the bravery gives those in Boston, the victims and their families the strength to carry on, he says. "We triumphed over that hateful act," Menino adds. Reminder: We've posted the program for the interfaith service below.

Update at 11:08 a.m. ET. Thanks For Those Who Helped The Victims:

After praying for the victims, Eminence Methodios, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Boston, thanks God "for the police and firefighters, the National Guard, for the doctors and nurses, for all who responded selflessly and courageously."

Update at 11:05 a.m. ET. "We Will Rise":

"Through the blur of each other's tears, we will rise in one community ... resolutely, as one," says Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, as she opens the interfaith service.

Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. Interfaith Service Is About To Start:

The president and first lady Michelle Obama just took their seats in Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross. is among the websites streaming coverage of the service.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. FBI Wants To Speak With Two Men, Napolitano Confirms:

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the FBI wants to speak with two men seen in at least one video from the Boston Marathon, but she says she isn't calling them suspects," The Associated Press reports.

The wire service adds that "without providing details of the men's appearance or what the video shows, Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that 'there is some video that raised the question' of two men the FBI would like to interview but said she wouldn't described them as suspects. Napolitano said it's still unclear whether the bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon were the work of foreign or domestic terrorists. She said the investigation is continuing 'apace.' "

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. President To Meet With Victims, First Responders:

Reporters traveling with the president, including NPR's Ari Shapiro, report he plans to spend some time today meeting with people who were injured in the bombings and with the first responders who rushed to help the victims.

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. People Lined Up Hours Ahead Of Service, And A Look At The Program:

There were people in line as early as 5 a.m. ET for the interfaith service, WBUR reports.

The program for this morning's service shows it will begin with the hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," that the Boston Children's Chorus will sing Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain" and that there will be "reflections" from both Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and President Obama.

Update at 9:10 a.m. ET. Images Of Two Individuals May Soon Be Released:

"Authorities have clear video images of two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images today in an appeal for the public's help in identifying the men," The Boston Globe reports. It cites "an official briefed on the case" as its source.

For more:

-- Wednesday's Developments.

-- Tuesday's Developments.

-- NPR's Coverage.

-- WBUR's Coverage.

Note: As happens when stories such as this are developing, there will likely be reports that turn out to be mistaken. Wednesday, for example, there were reports from CNN, the AP, WBUR and others that authorities either had arrested a suspect or were about to do that. It turned out that no one had been arrested or taken into custody.

We will focus on news being reported by NPR, other news outlets with expertise, and statements from authorities who are in a position to know what's going on. And if some of that information turns out to be wrong, we'll update.

Take me back to the top of this post.

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