Bombs used in Boston are likely easy to make

By Andrea Medeiros


SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – Making a bomb is frighteningly easier than it seems. Although the destructive power of different types of bombs often yields the same devastation, graduate students at University of Rhode Island found that it took just a few minutes to build a firecracker-type bomb with high explosive power.

“It takes for a pyrotechnic device, basically a fuel and an oxidizer, and that's it,” said graduate student Matt Porter.

Porter showed ABC6 cameras how a small amount of destructive material can yield a deadly result. Porter said in order to make a bomb, a person needs just two materials and a way to set it off – all it takes to create an explosion.

“This amount of material (in a firecracker bomb), probably not that much damage… maybe like a hand or an arm might get blown off,” Porter said.

Although the bombs used at the Boston Marathon weren't powerful enough to destroy buildings, their destruction is clear.

URI professor and resident bomb expert Jimmie Oxley says based on the plume of smoke in the Boston Marathon explosions, the bombs used were likely not much bigger.

“It didn't look like the plume went very high from what I could see,” Oxley explained. “Therefore, it could be a backpack or a briefcase-type bomb, something that could easily be carried to site and then placed in a trash can.”

The explosion of a bomb may be deadly, but bomb fragments can be equally fatal. When a bomb explodes, it can send shrapnel flying in all directions. Scrapnel causes a lot of injuries when bombs explode, and in Boston's case injured dozens and cost three people their lives.

But professor Oxley says, finding and disarming these types of bombs can be difficult. “Detecting the bombs ahead of time becomes a real hard problem because you've got so many places you can look,” Oxley said.

The professor also explained that bomb detection requires heavy machinery, which can't easily be taken to any location. Unless cities and towns were willing to close down every business and scan every person, bomb detection becomes a compounded problem.