Chapter I
Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

The bombing of the Murrah Building took its toll in human life and property damage and changed the community's and the Nation's general sense of safety and security. The blast killed 167 men, women, and children and injured 853 others (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, May 31, 1998). A volunteer nurse became the 168th fatality when falling debris struck her as she responded to the emergency. The explosion rocked downtown Oklahoma City, reduced the north face of the Murrah Building to rubble, and dealt extensive damage to each of the nine floors as they collapsed into the center, pancaking one on top of the other. When the dust cleared, one-third of the building lay in ruins. The force of the blast damaged 324 surrounding buildings, overturned automobiles, touched off car fires, and blew out windows and doors in a 50-block area. News reports indicated the explosion was felt 55 miles from the site and registered 6.0 on the Richter scale.

Quote from President Bill ClintonNineteen children, many in a second floor daycare center, died in the Murrah Building's collapse. Thirty children were orphaned. A total of 219 children lost a parent. More than 400 individuals were left homeless in the area. Seven thousand people lost their workplace and some 16,000 people were downtown at the time of the explosion (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, May 31, 1998). It is estimated 360,000 Oklahomans knew someone personally who worked in the Murrah Building (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, May 31, 1998). To compound the devastation the bombing had on the primary victims, unimaginable psychological and emotional impacts from the 16-day rescue-and-recovery effort took its toll on secondary victims including law enforcement and fire department personnel and Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) team members.

At the time the bomb was detonated, numerous federal agencies had offices in the Murrah Building: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Army and Marine recruiting offices; Department of Veterans Affairs; General Accounting Office; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Customs Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Transportation; and General Services Administration. The Federal Employees Credit Union and "America's Kids" Child Care Development Center were also housed in the building. When the catastrophe occurred, about 600 federal and contract workers and about 250 visitors were in the building (Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management, 1996).

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Responding to Terrorism Victims: Oklahoma City and Beyond October 2000