|There are at least 100 people injured and the death toll is expected to rise
|1995: Many feared dead in Oklahoma bombing
A huge car bomb has exploded at a government building in Oklahoma City killing at least 80 people including 17 children attending a nursery there. There are at least 100 people injured and the death toll is expected to rise.
In an emotional speech, President Bill Clinton vowed "swift, certain and severe" punishment for those behind the atrocity.
"The United States will not tolerate and I will not allow the people of this country to be intimidated by evil cowards," he said at a White House press conference this evening.
Trapped in the rubble
The blast happened just after 0900 local time when most workers were in their offices. It destroyed thefacadeof the ten-storey Alfred Murrah Building.
One survivor said he thought there was an earthquake: "I never heard anything that loud. It was a horrible noise...the roar of the whole building crumbling,"
There were scenes of chaos asparamedicstreated the wounded on the pavement and rescue workers battled to dig out those still trapped in the rubble.
The building housed a children's nursery on the second floor as well as social security, customs, agriculture and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Some federal agents noted that the ATF mounted the operation which ended the siege of David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, two years ago today. However members of the cult commemorating the siege today angrily denied any connection.
The State Department would not discuss the possibility of this being a terrorist attack but the FBI and Oklahoma police put out an alert for three men believed to be of Middle Eastern origin driving a brown Chevrolet pick-up truck.
Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and ten of his supporters are currently on trial for the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
Government buildings in Washington and all over the US have been put on high alert. Federal offices in Wilmington, Boston and Rochester were evacuated after bomb scares.