Boston Marathon explosions: How Twitter reacted to an unfolding disaster

News of the deadly bomb blasts quickly swept through social networks, as members of the public and celebrities alike reacted with shock to the news.

News of the horrific bomb blasts at the end of the Boston Marathon this evening quickly took over Twitter and other social networks.

The catastrophic blasts, which killed at least two people and injured dozens more, rocked the city's marathon shortly before 3pm local time.

Within minutes, 24-hour news networks were covering the story, and the news was beamed around the world within seconds online.

The hashtag #BostonMarathon quickly became a trending topic on Twitter - with tweeters heading online to find out what happened or simply convey their shock as feelings ran high.

The #prayforboston hashtag also trended quickly, as did 'JFK' - in reference to the JFK library which was said to have suffered a third bomb blast across the city, although news of a third blast was unconfirmed.

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was one of those who reacted quickly by using this trending topic, in a message which was retweeted over 40,000 times in the space of a couple of hours.

The harrowing image of the first blast on the finishing line appeared around the world within hours thanks to the power of social media.

Related: Boston Marathon: World's oldest annual marathon dates back to 1897

Similarly, U.S. basketball star LeBron James sent out his condolences to the victims involved in the Boston Marathon explosions.

He tweeted: 'Prayers goes out to those involved/hurt in #BostonMarathon. WTF is wrong with people man. Just sad.'

A police officer stands guard at the corner of Boylston and Arlington Streets with the marathon finish line bridge in the distance (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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Tue, Apr 16, 2013 13:00 BST