Flashback: Original AP report of Oklahoma bombing

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Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor Remembers Blast 20 Years Later

EDITOR'S NOTE: On April 19, 1995, a pair of former U.S. Army soldiers parked a rented Ryder truck packed with explosives outside a federal building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others, and the attack is the worst homegrown terror attack on American soil.

The bombing came only two years after the first attack on the World Trade Center.

Former U.S. soldier Timothy McVeigh was convicted on 11 counts of murder, conspiracy and using a weapon of mass destruction in the blast, and was later executed. The other ex-soldier, Terry Nichols, was convicted on similar charges and sentenced to life without parole, because the jury deadlocked on the death penalty. The two were motivated by contempt for government, the hatred sharpened by the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

Twenty years later, the AP is making the original story and photographs available.

38 PHOTOS
Oklahoma City Bombing
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Flashback: Original AP report of Oklahoma bombing
In this May 5, 1995 file photo, a large group of search and rescue crew attends a memorial service in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people _ including 19 children _ injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles in the downtown area. (AP Photo/Bill Waugh, Flle)
In this April 19, 1995 file photo, medical assistants, Janet Froehlich, left, Wilma Jackson and Kerri Albright run from the Alfred Murrah Federal Building after being told another bomb device had been found in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people _ including 19 children _ injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles in the downtown area. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
An unidentified woman is restrained by relatives and police after learning her child was trapped in a day care facility at the Alfred Murrah Federal Building Wednesday April 19, 1995, in downtown Oklahoma City. A bomb blast ripped through the building early Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
In this April 19, 1995 file photo, an injured woman holds a child following a blast that destroyed a large portion of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people _ including 19 children _ injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles in the downtown area. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
The Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City after a car bomb ripped through it Wednesday, April 19, 1995. (AP Photo)
In this April 21, 1995 file photo, Timothy James McVeigh is lead out of the Noble County Courthouse by state and federal law enforcement officials in Perry, Okla., after being identified as a suspect in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building. McVeigh was sentenced to death and executed. (AP Photo/John Gaps III)
In this June 13, 1997 file photo, defense attorney Stephen Jones is seen outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colo., after the jury sentenced Timothy McVeigh to death for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh was sentenced to death and executed. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner)
Rescue workers stand in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building following an explosion on April 19, 1995, in downtown Oklahoma City. One hundred sixty-eight people died as a result of the explosion. Timothy McVeigh was convicted Monday June 2, 1997, of blowing up the building.(AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)
Emergency lights illuminate the bomb-damaged Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Wednesday night, April 19, 1995. Authorities believe a car bomb caused the massive destruction, killing at least 31 people. (AP Photo/John Gaps III)
An unidentified woman comforts an injured child following an explosion Wednesday, April 19, 1995, at the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. A car bomb blast gouged a nine-story hole in the federal office building. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
In this April 24, 1995 file photo, an Oklahoma City police car decorated with the words, "We will never forget," and a small American flag sits near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people _ including 19 children _ injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles in the downtown area. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
The Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City sits in ruin after an explosion Wednesday, April 19, 1994. The FBI failed to fully investigate information suggesting other suspects may have helped Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, allowing questions to linger more than a decade after the deadly attack, a congressional inquiry concludes. The House International Relations investigative subcommittee will release the findings of its two-year-review as early as Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2006, declaring there is no conclusive evidence of a foreign connection to the attack but that far too many unanswered questions remain. (AP Photo)
Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and FBI agents survey the damage to the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City Wednesday, April 19, 1995. A car bomb blast gouged a nine-story hole in the federal office building. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
An unidentified man stands in the blown-out doorway of a downtown Oklahoma City business Wednesday, April 19, 1995. The building is just a few blocks away from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed by a car bomb Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In this April 19, 1995 file photo, rescue personnel converge on the bombed Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the FBI capped off its attempt to persuade a federal judge in Salt Lake City that it is not hiding unreleased surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by bringing witnesses who testified that there has never been any security-camera videos of the bomb going off. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
The Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City is the center of attention Thursday, April 20, 1995, as rescue workers continue digging through the rubble after Wednesday's fatal explosion. (AP Photo/J.Pat Carter)
Office lights on the Liberty Bank building in Oklahoma City are illuminated to form a cross near the bomb damaged Federal Building in the early morning hours of April 21, 1995. Rescue workers found 50 more bodies overnight. (AP Photo/John Gaps III)
Workers at the Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office move a body bag on a gurney Thursday, April 20, 1995, in Oklahoma City. More than 30 people were killed by a car bomb blast at the Alfred Murrah Federal Building Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
An FBI agent looks over part of a transmission rod Thursday, April 20, 1995, blown more than a block from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in Wednesday's fatal car bombing. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Search crews in Oklahoma City use heavy equipment to clear away debris from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building early Thursday morning, April 20, 1995, searching for possible survivors in the building. A car bomb exploded outside the federal building Wednesday, April 19, 1995. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Fire personnel gather at the base of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City Thursday, April 20, 1995, prior to a walkthrough of the area by media covering Wednesday's fatal car bombing at the center.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip,Pool)
Heavy equipment is used to remove debris from the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City Friday, April 21, 1995, site of Wednesday's car bombing that left at least 50 people dead and scores injured or missing.(AP Photo/David Glass)
The scene at Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City during the early morning hours Saturday, April 22, 1995.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rescue workers continue their efforts in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on Monday, April 24, 1995, as their shift ends. The nine-story building was bombed on April 19. Late in the evening Monday, officials at the scene said they had removed three bodies, pushing the death toll to 83. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Tammy Franton, left, replaces signs blown over by the wind Tuesday, April 25, 1995, near the bombing scene in Oklahoma City. The signs and flowers were placed there by people honoring those killed in April 19th's car bombing attack at the federal building. Looking at right is Gail Hunter. The women standing second from right is unidentified. (AP Photo/Lacy Atkins)
President and Mrs. Clinton leave a funeral service at St. Patrick's Church in Rockville, Md. Wednesday April 26, 1995 for Secret Service special agent Alan Whicher. The president remembered Whicher, a former member of his security detail who was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, as "the kind of man every parent wants his or her son to be." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Beth Mack, first wife of Oklahoma bombing victim Clarence Wilson, is hugged by a friend during funeral services Monday, May 1, 1995 at Temple and Sons Funeral Home in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
In this May 5, 1995 file photo, Karen Ellison of Oklahoma City looks through a chain link fence at the memorial service for rescue workers and volunteers at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. More than 600 people were injured in the April 19, 1995 attack and 168 people were killed. Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 and Terry Nichols is serving multiple life sentences on federal and state convictions for their convictions in the bombing. (AP Photo J. Pat Carter, File)
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City falls in a cloud of dust as it was demolished by explosives Tuesday, May 23, 1995. The building was the site of a deadly car-bomb attack April 19, 1995. (AP Photo/George Wilson/POOL)
In this May 23, 1995 file photo, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City falls in a cloud of dust as it was demolished by exposives. The building was the site of a deadly car-bomb attack April 19, 1995. A memorial to the bombing’s victims now sits on the former site of the federal building, and a nearby building that was damaged in the bombing houses an interactive museum. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure/POOL)
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City falls in a cloud of dust as it was demolished by explosives Tuesday, May 23, 1995. The building was the site of a deadly car-bomb attack April 19, 1995. (AP Photo/George Wilson/POOL)
Rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is shown Tuesday, May 23, 1995, between other downtown buildings after its demolition by explosives. The building was originally damaged in the April 19 truck-bombing attack, where at least 167 people were killed. (AP Photo/Bill Waugh)
Donna Ronio is among hundreds of visitors touring the remains of the Oklahoma City bombing site, March 29, 1997. There has been renewed interest in viewing the site prior to Timothy McVeigh's trial which begins Monday, March 31 in Denver. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Timothy McVeigh, a suspect in the car bombing of the Alfred Murray Building in Oklahoma City, is escorted from the Noble County Courthouse in Perry, Okla., April 21, 1995. The explosion, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more, will be marking its second anniversay on Saturday, April 19, 1997. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
In this May 3, 2001 file photo, a view from the plaza overlooking the Oklahoma City National Memorial site is seen. There are 168 chairs, one for each of the victims killed in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building April 19, 1995. The survivors' tree and the old Journal Record building are reflected in the reflection pool. A memorial to the bombing’s victims now sits on the former site of the federal building, and a nearby building that was damaged in the bombing houses an interactive museum. Each year on the bombing’s anniversary, victim'€™s family members, survivors, rescue workers and others return to the memorial for a remembrance ceremony. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
The chair dedicated to bombing victim Baylee Almon is pictured in the Field of Empty Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial at dusk in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Sunday will be the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,was located where the Field of Empty Chairs is now. Almon was the baby pictured in the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
The entrance to the Oklahoma City National Memorial is pictured at dusk in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Sunday will be the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. The memorial was dedicated on April 19, 2000, the fifth year anniversary of the bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A car bomb ripped deep into America's heartland Wednesday, killing at least 33 people and leaving 200 missing in a blast that gouged a nine-story hole in a federal office building.

The dead included at least 12 youngsters, some of whom had just been dropped off by their parents at a day-care center.

The government had received calls from six people saying they were from different Muslim groups, asserting they were responsible for the deadliest U.S. bombing in 75 years.

"But there is no way to know if the calls are genuine," said a Justice Department official, who declined to be identified by name. "They could be hoaxes."

At least 200 people were injured - 58 critically, according to Fire Chief Gary Marrs. Scores were feared trapped in the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

"I was in Japan for the Kobe earthquake and saw the devastation," said James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The area impacted here is just as bad, if not worse."

Three people were pulled from the rubble Wednesday night but two died a short time later, said Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen. He said a 15-year-old girl was taken from the building in critical condition. He also said a woman trapped in the basement said there were two others with her. She didn't know if they were dead or alive.

The death toll was certain to rise.

"Our firefighters are having to crawl over corpses in areas to get to people that are still alive," said Hansen.

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Oklahoma City bombing exhibit - The Oklahoma City National Memorial - trial
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Flashback: Original AP report of Oklahoma bombing
The north side of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City is shown in this undated handout photo. The building was heavily damaged by a car bomb early Wednesday, April 19, 1995. (AP Photo/ho)
In this July 16, 2014, photo, Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue holds a photograph of his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, in the early 80's showing his dragon tattoo on his left forearm which fit the description the FBI was circulating of "John Doe 2" during an interview, in Salt Lake City. Trentadue's quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Trentadue's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial Monday, July 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
EDS NOTE GRAPHIC CONTENT - Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue holds a photograph of his holds a photograph of his dead brother showing his bruises and injuries during an interview Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Trentadue's quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Trentadue's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial Monday, July 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In this photo released by Jesse Trentadue, Jesse and his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, right, pose for their picture in 1995 in the mountains above Park City, Utah. Jesse is investigating the August 1995 death of his brother in a federal prison. (AP Photo/courtesy of Jesse Trentadue)
Scott Adams, the Oklahoma City lawyer for the Kenneth Trentadue family, stands in front of a poster of Kenneth Trentadue, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 1997, in his Oklahoma City office. The poster features a photo of Trentadue in his casket. Federal officals at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center claim that Trentadue committed suicide while at the center two years ago. However, his family and Adams believe he was murdered. His body was covered with bruises. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
In this April 17, 2014 photo a visitor walks through a renovated Gallery of Honor, an exhibit about victims of the bombing, that is part of the $7 million upgrade at The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Ted Krey of Yukon, Okla., a first responder to the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, walks with his dog, Pokie, along the Reflecting Pool at the Oklahoma City Memorial in Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 19, 2014, the 19th anniversary of the bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin speaks at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 19, 2014 during a ceremony to mark the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Jannie Coverdale walks among the Field of Chairs at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial in Oklahoma City, Friday, July 25, 2014, looking for the chairs of her two grandchildren, who were killed in the blast. Coverdale said she is hopeful that an upcoming trial in Utah will shed light on the bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
In this July 16, 2014, photo, Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue holds a photograph of his brother taken in the early 80's showing his dragon tattoo on his left forearm which fit the description the FBI was circulating of "John Doe 2", during an interview, in Salt Lake City. Trentadue's quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Trentadue's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial Monday, July 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Cary Falling, Oklahoma Christian University physical plant director, checks on a display of flags at the school in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. The school has 168 U.S. and 168 state of Oklahoma flags on display to honor victims of terrorist attacks. The "Ralph and Maxine Harvey Field of Flags" at Oklahoma Christian is a dual tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 people died. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
New Mexico Lt. Governor John Sanchez looks at a large photograph of the bombed Murrah Federal Building while on a tour of the Oklahma City National Memorial Museum with Lieutenant Governors in town for their annual meeting in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
An aerial view of the execution facility at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., is shown in this, April 25, 2001 file photo. On Monday, June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh will be the first federal prisoner put to death since 1963. He was convicted for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 men, women, and children. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Defense attorney Stephen Jones is seen outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colo., Friday, June 13, 1997 after the jury sentenced Timothy McVeigh to death for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner)
This evidence photo of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh was introduced at his trial in Denver on Monday, May 19, 1997. It was taken April 19, 1995, just hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, at the Noble County Jail in Perry, Okla., when McVeigh was booked on a firearm charge. (AP Photo/HO)
Terry Nichols is led by U.S. Marshals from the United States Court House in Wichita, Kan., May 10, 1995. No trial date has been set for Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, the two suspects in the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Pre-trial hearings could delay the start until next year. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, top center, poses with members of his platoon during a break in infantry training at Ft. Benning, Ga., June 3, 1988. Others are not indentified. (AP Photo)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: John Blitch, who lost family and friends in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, leans upon a chair in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19th, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in American history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - APRIL 19: (L-R) Bugler MSG Allyn VanPatten of the Army Band plays Taps as CSM Abe Vega of U.S. Army, Secret Service Deputy Director Barbara Riggs and GY Sgt. Christopher Cox of U.S. Marine Corps salute after laying a wreath in front of a memorial stone to remember the 168 Americans who were killed during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing at Arlington National Cemetery April 19, 2005 in Arlington, VA. The 168 victims included 8 members of the Army, 6 members of the Secret Service and 2 members of the Marine. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - APRIL 19: (L-R) Army Officer Richard Sargent assists White House Commission on Remembrance Director Carmella LaSpada, GY Sgt. Christopher Cox of U.S. Marine Corps, Secret Service Deputy Director Barbara Riggs and CSM Abe Vega of U.S. Army to lay a wreath in front of a memorial stone to remember the 168 Americans who were killed during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing at Arlington National Cemetery April 19, 2005 in Arlington, VA. The 168 victims included 8 members of the Army, 6 members of the Secret Service and 2 members of the Marine. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - APRIL 19: A wreath is laid in front of a memorial stone after a ceremony to remember the 168 Americans who were killed during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing at Arlington National Cemetery April 19, 2005 in Arlington, Virginia. The 168 victims included 8 members of the Army, 6 members of the Secret Service and 2 members of the Marine. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - APRIL 19: (L-R) Army Officer Richard Sargent, White House Commission on Remembrance Director Carmella LaSpada, GY Sgt. Christopher Cox of U.S. Marine Corps, Secret Service Deputy Director Barbara Riggs and CSM Abe Vega of U.S. Army salute after laying a wreath in front of a memorial stone to remember the 168 Americans who were killed during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing at Arlington National Cemetery April 19, 2005 in Arlington, Virginia. The 168 victims included 8 members of the Army, 6 members of the Secret Service and 2 members of the Marine. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: Lorrain Lovelace (L) comforts Judie Cooper (R) in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Cooper's daughter Dana Cooper, the director of the day care facility in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, was killed when the building was bombed ten years ago. April 19, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: Carol Tims (L), a survivor of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, cries at the chair representing Mary Rentie, one the victims who died in the bombing, in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At right is Tims' friend, Judy Cleveland. April 19, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: Regina Bonny, a survivor of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, cries at the chair representing one of her five co-workers who died in the bombing, in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. April 19, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: Regina Bonny, a survivor of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, touches the chair representing one of her five co-workers who died in the bombing in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. April 19, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY - APRIL 19: J.J. Jackson, who helped rescue survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, cries at the chair representing one the victims who died in the bombing in the 'Field of Empty Chairs' at the Oklahoma City National Memorial April 19, 2005 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. April 19, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the morning when Timothy McVeigh ignited a 4,800-pound fertilizer truck bomb that killed 168 people in what was, at the time, the worst terror attack in U.S. history. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - APRIL 19: (R-L) U.S. Army chaplain Kenneth Kerr, James Tomsheck of the U.S. Secretary Service, U.S. Marine Col. Mark Monroe, U.S. Army Col. Lloyd Holloway and Carmella Laspada, White House Commission on Remembrance executive director, pay their respects after they placed a wreath at the Memorial Tree and Stone to Terrorism at Arlington National Ceremony April 19. 2004 in Arlington, Virginia. The wreath was laid to remember the 168 victims who died in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The ceremony marked the ninth anniversary of the bombing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Police Department Chaplain Jack Poe salutes during the National Anthem during the 16th Annual Day of Remembrance at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Okla. Gov. Mary Fallin told those attending a ceremony marking the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that the intent of the bombing was meant for evil _ but that event has been used for good. (AP Photo/John Clanton, Pool)
ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 10: A veteran of the secret Lao Theater, Bouala Chansombath of Oklahoma City, kneels and offers a prayer at the plaque dedicated to the U.S. Secret Army in the Kingdom of Laos during a memorial and wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery May 10, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. Supported by the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency from 1961 to 1973, the secret army of Hmong and Lao combat soldiers fought in the jungles of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ther Heritage Hall Show Choir sings the Star Spangled Banner at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in Oklahoma City, during a ceremony to mark the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Members of the Oklahoma Fire Pipes & Drums open the ceremonies at the Oklahoma City National Memorial for the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing in Oklahoma City, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Cory Shepherd, of Newcastle, Okla., holds his seventeen-month-old son Corbin Shepherd in the Field of Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in Oklahoma City, on the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Shepherd's wife had a family member killed in the bombing. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Jennifer Walker, center, of Ardmore, Okla., stands at the chair of her father, David Jack Walker, in the Field of Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, following the 17th annual Remembrance Ceremony in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 19, 2012. With her are her two children, Walker, left, named for her father, and Graecin, right. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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The first of four urban search and rescue units activated by the federal government was headed into the building early Thursday, using dogs, acoustic listening equipment and tiny cameras to look for victims.

Attorney General Janet Reno refused to comment on who might have been behind the attack. President Clinton called the bombers "evil cowards," and Reno said the government would seek the death penalty against them.

A Department of Public Safety dispatcher in El Paso, Texas, told the El Paso Times that an alert had been issued from the DPS for two people who may be bloodied and may be trying to cross into Mexico at Laredo, Texas. The bulletin said the information was on the authority of the FBI.

The bomb was believed to be in a minivan with Texas plates, owned by National Car Rental, said Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Kim Hughes. An axle of the vehicle was found about two blocks from the scene, said a police source who requested anonymity.

Their clothes torn off, victims covered in glass and plaster emerged bloodied and crying from the building, which looked as if a giant bite had been taken out of it, exposing its floors like a dollhouse.

Cables and other debris dangled from the floors like tangled streamers in a scene that brought to mind the car bombings at the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

"I dove under that table," said Brian Espe, a state veterinarian who was giving a slide presentation on the fifth floor. "When I came out, I could see daylight if I looked north and daylight if I looked west."

Mayor Ron Norick said the blast, which left a crater 30 feet long and 8 feet deep, was caused by a car bomb. He said the vehicle had been outside, in front of the building.

"Obviously, no amateur did this," Gov. Frank Keating said. "Whoever did this was an animal."

Police Sgt. Bill Martin said that 12 of those killed were children.

Earlier in the day, paramedic Heather Taylor said 17 children were dead at the scene, a figure later disputed by police. Dr. Carl Spengler, one of the first doctors at the scene, said the children, all at the day-care center, ranged in age from 1 to 7, and some were burned beyond recognition.

About 20 of 40 children in the day-care center were missing late in the day.

The search continued after nightfall, with about 100 Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers activated to help with rescue and security operations in the downtown area.

The explosion, similar to the terrorist car bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000 at New York's World Trade Center in 1993, happened just after 9 a.m., when most of the more than 500 federal employees were in their offices.

The blast could be felt 30 miles away. Black smoke streamed across the skyline, and glass, bricks and other debris were spread over a wide area. The north side of the building was gone. Cars were incinerated on the street.

People frantically searched for loved ones, including parents whose children were in the building's day-care center.

Christopher Wright of the Coast Guard, one of those helping inside the building, said rescuers periodically turned off their chain saws and prying tools to listen for pleas for help, "but we didn't hear anything - just death."

"You're helpless really, when you see people two feet away, you can't do anything, they're just smashed," he said.

Doctors had to amputate one woman's leg to free her.

"She was lying underneath a beam. It was obvious that she could not be extracted alive," said Dr. Andy Sullivan. "The attempt to remove the concrete beams would have caused the rest of the building to collapse. So at that point there was no decision made other than to crawl into the space and perform the amputation to get the patient out."

The building, which opened in 1977, has offices of such federal agencies as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Social Security, Veterans Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Housing and Urban Development, and a federal employee credit union and military recruiting offices.

The bomb was perhaps 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, said John Magaw, ATF director. As for whether his agency suspected terrorists, he told CNN: "I think any time you have this kind of damage, this kind of explosion, you have to look there first."

Bob Ricks, agent in charge of the FBI in Oklahoma, said that there were hundreds of leads and that the bureau was treating them all seriously. "At this point we do not speculate as to who is responsible," he said.

Keating said he was told by the FBI that authorities were initially looking for three people of Middle Eastern descent in a brown pickup truck.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol put out an all-points bulletin for the three, but Keating later downplayed the report, saying it was one of many leads being checked.

Keating also said they were checking whether the rental of a vehicle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was tied to the explosion. Dallas is about 200 miles south of Oklahoma City.

The explosion heightened U.S. fears of terrorism. Federal buildings in several cities were evacuated because of bomb threats, and the government ordered tightened security at federal buildings throughout the country.

In 1920, a bomb blast in New York's Wall Street area killed 40 people and injured hundreds. Authorities concluded it was the work of "anarchists" and came up with a list of suspects, but all had fled to Russia.

After Wednesday's blast, emergency crews set up a first aid center near the federal building, and some of the injured sat on the sidewalks, blood on their heads or arms, awaiting aid.

Carole Lawton, 62, a HUD secretary, said she was sitting at her desk on the seventh floor when "all of a sudden the windows blew in. It got real dark and the ceiling just started coming down." She then heard "the roar of the whole building crumbling." She managed to crawl down some stairs and was not injured.

The explosion occurred on the second anniversary of the fiery, fatal ending to the federal siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. That siege began with a raid by ATF agents a month and a half earlier.

Oklahoma City FBI spokesman Dan Vogel wouldn't speculate if there was a connection. The FBI's offices are about five miles away.

In the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993, a rented van blew up in a parking garage beneath the twin towers. Four Muslims were convicted.


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