Multiple witnesses reported hearing more than one explosion the day the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, while other explosives experts contend that the damage done to the building could not have been caused by a single bomb placed outside in a truck.
According to excerpts of a new 500-page report authored by the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation Commission, led by ex-Oklahoma state Rep. Charles Key, “the FBI concluded that the damage to the Murrah Building was caused by one ammonium nitrate truck bomb, which was concealed in a 20-foot Ryder rental truck.”
However, the commission’s report said, multiple witnesses “have testified to hearing a second bomb” go off shortly after 9 a.m. the morning of April 19, 1995.
Furthermore, the report said, “explosives experts contend that the extent of the damage to the building” — of which aerial photos showed nearly one-third was destroyed — “could not have resulted from a single truck bomb. …”
A summary of the damage report to the building, which was made available exclusively to WorldNetDaily, said witness accounts regarding the explosions “vary, depending upon their location at the time of the bombing.” And just a few of those accounts were provided to WND via the report summary.
Nevertheless, the accounts cast doubt on the federal government’s insistence that a single ANFO — ammonium nitrate and fuel oil — bomb, driven to the front of the Murrah building by convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh and, witnesses say, at least one other person, caused all of the damage.
The bombing killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others.
The commission said a Housing and Urban Development employee reported feeling an “initial shock” while she was on the ninth floor, which “she assumed was an earthquake.” A “massive explosion then followed” that sensation, she said.
A local CBS affiliate reporter also said she had interviewed “a number of people who had climbed under their desks to seek shelter.” That indicates, according to some analysts who agree with the commission’s conclusions, that another device likely exploded — perhaps in the garage area of the Murrah Building — before the Ryder truck bomb, because a “sensation” was felt and people had enough time to get under a desk before the ANFO explosion.
Another witness, the report said, “felt a ‘boom,’ then heard a second explosion,” while another, who “was at a third floor stairwell,” also “heard a second explosion.”
Bomb numbers, characteristics change
Initial reports in local media said city and county bomb squad personnel, as well as some government agents, had discovered up to two other unexploded bombs in the building. But those reports virtually disappeared a few days after the bombing. The sightings of the additional bombs were, when reported, confirmed by local, state and federal officials.
The commission’s report said Dr. Raymon Brown, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, “explained how two explosions” could be heard or felt by witnesses.
“He stated that the ground wave [from a single explosion -- outside, in front of the building] was probably heard first, with an air wave following, giving the impression of two explosions,” the report said. “Because the speed of sound is faster in the earth, the ground wave arrives early. The air wave follows, which allows the explosion to be heard.” Other experts refuted that explanation.
As the commission report showed, there were discrepancies in witness accounts, seismological accounts, and even official federal accounts about the bomb’s makeup, the shock waves it caused and specific characteristics surrounding the bomb’s size.
The report said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms “reported the blast as being the result of a car bomb containing 1,200 pounds of … ANFO. Then, it was reported that the bomb weighed 4,000 pounds. The story changed again immediately preceding [McVeigh's 1997 federal] trial [in Denver, Colo.] when it was asserted that the bomb was a mixture of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane (ANNM), weighing 4,800 pounds.”
Also, the commission pointed out, “as rescue efforts began, there were reports of other bombs being found in the building, causing [it] to be evacuated twice” during the early rescue efforts.
Later, “the government, however, denied that any bombs were found within the building, but eyewitnesses refuted that contention.”
Reports of other devices
In an interview with Oklahoma City police and fire department officials in the days after the bombing, Firehouse Magazine — a trade journal for firefighters — quoted officials who said “four bomb scares” were eventually reported: 10 a.m., 10:22 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 1:51 p.m., all on April 19, the day of the bombing.
Furthermore, the commission said, the “Oklahoma Final Report,” which was issued in July 1996 and published by the City of Oklahoma, reported two bombs. According to this report, the commission noted, “a bomb scare occurred at 10:29 a.m. and … 1:30 p.m.,” and that “both times the building was evacuated.”
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, Dr. Randall Heather, a terrorism expert who was being interviewed by local TV station KFOR, “was quoted as saying that he was aware that the FBI received a [bombing] threat the previous week,” the report noted.
“It’s a great stroke of luck that we actually have got diffused bombs,” he told the station, because, the commission’s report quoted Heather as saying, through bomb material “… we will be able to track down who committed this atrocity.”