A group of young people from throughout Tyrone who are currently in Boston have described the aftermath of Monday’s marathon bombing as “complete chaos”.
The group who are on a Tyrone Donegal Partnership Wider Horizons programme only arrived in the American city 20 minutes before the two bombs exploded killing three people and injuring hundreds more.
Thankfully at the time of the harrowing attack, the 17 participants aged between 18-28 were visiting the Irish Immigration Centre less than a mile away from the marathon finishing line.
Speaking from Boston, group supervisor, Lisa McAleer from Loughmacrory said, “We only landed in Boston on Monday and the bombs went off about 20 minutes after we arrived in the city.
“We were in the Irish Immigration Centre which is below a bank so we didn’t hear a thing when the bombs exploded, which is for the best as there would have been panic stations with the students.
“We actually first heard there had been a bomb from friends and family at home getting in contact with us. When we got up to the streets it was crazy with fire engines and ambulances everywhere. All the students went back to their host families as the police shut down this area of downtown Boston and evacuated the building.
“We were about a ten minute walk away so it was crazy. We could see the smoke in the sky. It was complete chaos.
“Thankfully everything has settled down now and everyone is looking forward to the rest of the trip.”
The youth leader revealed that the group had actually originally planned to go and watch the athletes cross the finish line, after learning their arrival in Boston coincided with the internationally renown marathon.
Fortunately due to logistical reasons the request was denied due to a mandatory induction at the Irish Immigration Centre.
A statement on the Tyrone Donegal Partnership Facebook page on Tuesday stated, “We are happy to report that all students and supervisors that travelled to Boston on the multimedia programme yesterday arrived safe and sound and have settled into Boston well.
“We are saddened to hear the news regarding the events of yesterday and would like to let our Boston colleagues at the Irish International Immigrant Centre know they are in our thoughts.”
ANXIOUS PHONE CALLS
Tyrone Donegal Partnership programme manager, Diane Wilson told the Ulster Herald there were a few anxious phone calls on Monday evening.
She said, “All the participants were immediately instructed to ring home to let everyone know they were safe, but we did receive some anxious phone calls on Monday night making sure everyone was safe.
“Thankfully they all are safe and well and no one has requested to come home.
“The group have work placements in Boston for the next six weeks and will now continue their trip as planned. Hopefully they will all still have an enjoyable experience and benefit greatly from the trip.”
OMAGH BOMB RECALLED
Meanwhile, speaking in the Stormont chamber on Tuesday, West Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey made comparisons to the devastation caused by the Omagh bomb that took the life of 31 people in 1998.
Mr Hussey said, “On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, I express deepest sympathy to the people of Boston, its mayor and governor on the loss of life at this event. There is no doubt that the people who carried out this evil are terrorists. You cannot describe them as anything else. Their intention was to terrorise, and they have succeeded.
“That terror will be revisited on people who live in Northern Ireland. I almost froze as I drove up the road because I immediately thought of Omagh on 15 August 1998, when my town was visited by evil people. The fear came back to me that we could see that visited on us again.”
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