'It's Not Safe Downtown'

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Minutes after the blast, the streets were filled with stunned people walking aimlessly up the hill in the dark towards Peachtree Street, while helicopters circled overhead, shining blinding searchlights on the city. Some of those walking away from Centennial Park were bleeding from minor shrapnel wounds. As traffic came to a standstill, police worked to move thousands of frightened people out of major intersections, making way for ambulances while urging the crowds to keep moving away from the scene of the explosion. Once out of the immediate area of the bomb scene, though, people seemed at a loss as to what to do, where to go. Some curled up on the sidewalks and went to sleep. Others gathered on street corners, talking about what they had seen, reflecting on their narrow escape from death. There were few tears. It was too soon for anger. Most were gripped by a paralyzing sense of sadness and resignation. Many lingered in the streets as the darkness began to fade and a fresh shift of security volunteers arrived to replace those who had worked through the night. "I don't know if it's going to keep me from coming down here," said Sultan Muhammad, who saw the explosion. "But I hope it doesn't keep other people away. The games were just starting to go smoothly, and then this happens." Others were not so optimistic about Atlanta's chances of recovering smoothly from the shock. "I'm not going back downtown," said one eyewitness. "There's no way. It's not safe downtown." "The party's over," said a man at a MARTA stop. "No one's going to want to come to the Olympics if they're going to get bombed." As they scramble to tighten security still further, Atlanta games organizers can only hope he's wrong. -->