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Jalisco chief of staff caught up in Boston Marathon bombings

April 16, 2013

Fourteen athletes from Jalisco, including a prominent member of the state government, survived the dual bombings that left three people dead and over a hundred injured during the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Sixteen people from Jalisco had signed up to run in the marathon but two never took part according to the official register. The runners included six from Guadalajara and seven from Zapopan – among them Hector Vielma, the former mayor of Zapopan and current chief of staff under Governor Aristoteles Sandoval. None were reported to have been injured in the blasts.

Vielma thanked several of his followers on twitter for their concern, adding, “I’m fine! It is sad and unfortunate that these events have taken place! My condolences to the families of those affected!”

Vielma, who had yet to complete the marathon when the explosions occurred, later assured the public that he had taken two days of unpaid leave to compete in the race.

A total of 233 Mexicans had registered to take part in the event, while former President Felipe Calderon was among the many spectators who lined the streets of Boston to watch the runners pass by.

“Thanks for your comments and your concern. We are fine. We were watching the marathon a few kilometres from the finish line,” Calderon wrote on Twitter. “My solidarity to the victims of today’s explosions in Boston and with the American people that suffer and don’t deserve these events.”

Calderon now resides in Boston, having taken up a teaching position at Harvard University since leaving office last year. Shortly before the explosions rocked the city, he tweeted, “I congratulate the Mexicans who participated in the Boston Marathon today. What pride for Mexico.”

Founded in 1897, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon. Held on Patriot’s Day, the third Monday of April, it attracts thousands of runners from around the world and around 500,000 spectators.

Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 participants had already crossed the finish line when the first bomb exploded at around 2.50 p.m. The second blast occurred just seconds later, less than 200 meters down the street. Three people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy, while over 100 people were left wounded, many of them seriously.

No arrests have been made to date and it remains unclear who was behind the attacks. The FBI said that this was a “potential terrorist investigation,” while President Barack Obama said “we still do not know who did this or why,” but promised that those responsible would feel the “full weight of justice.”

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