Bloodied and dazed, they waited.
The victims of the explosion that ripped a nine-story chunk from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Wednesday morning waited to hear what happened to their co-workers.Mothers waited to hear what happened to their babies. Doctors waited to treat the wounded. Counselors comforted agitated family members, friends and some blood-spattered victims.
Injuries were severe: One man's back had glass protruding from at least 100 cuts. Flying glass slashed one person's throat and punctured another's lungs.
"There were partitions, a wall and door that buffered me. I just got buried under all that," said Larry Cook, 51, a supervisor at the downtown office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Cook was on the building's seventh floor when the explosion happened. He had stitches across his forehead and on his hand after treatment at St. Anthony's Hospital in downtown Oklahoma City, and his wrist was bandaged thickly where it was cut near an artery.
He wore blue hospital scrubs. His clothes were ruined.
"What didn't get blown off had to get cut off," he said. Cook needed help to read a friend's phone number. His glasses were blown off in the blast.
Cook said he was worried about his co-workers and had no idea what became of the six employees he supervised or the other HUD workers.
"Everybody up there's real close," Cook said. He headed to the mental health center when he was released to check the citywide lists of those injured.
David Page, managing editor of The Journal Record, was talking with his reporters when the blast hit a half-block away.
"There was just this loud noise, then portions of the ceiling tiles started coming down," he said.
Page said he wandered from The Journal Record building onto the street, still carrying the coffee cup he had in his hand at the time of the explosion. Because he left the building on a side street, Page said he did not see the federal building. He also did not know he had been injured.
"My shoe was getting sloshy and I realized it was filling up with blood," he said.
Page was treated for numerous cuts from flying glass and later released from Presbyterian Hospital.
"It's kind of hard to believe that I was there now that I see the force of the explosion," he said.
Page was like the many victims who stumbled, dazed, from damaged buildings near the blast site. Hundreds more were buried inside the rubble of the federal building, some alive and crying out for help.
"They're everywhere," said Oklahoma City firefighter Mike Roberts, wiping tears away. He dragged bodies out of the building all morning.
The dead "kind of whizzed by," said Maj. Monte Baxter of the Oklahoma City fire department. "I've never seen this kind of devastation," Baxter said.
Rescuers used dogs and listening devices to find survivors and freed them with hydraulic-powered equipment.
A surgeon had to amputate one woman's leg to pull her from the wreckage.
"She was lying underneath a beam. It was obvious that she could not be extracted alive," said Dr. Andy Sullivan, an orthopedic surgeon. "The attempt to remove the concrete beams would have caused the rest of the building to collapse."
Heather Taylor, an emergency worker, tagged the feet of numerous children before the smoke had cleared. Two children were burned beyond recognition, and the bodies of the rest were mangled. One was decapitated.
The building's day-care center was on the second floor, just above the spot where the bomb exploded. Toys and games were scattered amid broken glass and other debris on the street. Windows also blew in at the day-care center in the YMCA across the street.
"Babies were crying and screaming, with blood and plaster and insulation on their bodies," said state Rep. Kevin Cox, who was a half-block away when the bomb exploded.
V.Z. Lawton worked for HUD on the eighth floor of the federal building. There was a clump of dried blood on his right hand, and he complained of back pain.
But Lawton said too many other people were seriously injured for him to seek medical treatment. He didn't believe many of his co-workers could have survived.
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