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Texas inferno: dozens feared dead in fertilizer factory explosion
Thursday, 18 April 2013

A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked the town of West, north of Waco, causing multiple casualties and leaving people trapped and buildings on fire.

Emergency personnel were bracing for the possibility of dozens of dead in the blast, which was reported at 7:53 p.m. and could be heard 45 miles away in Waxahachie.

Although authorities confirmed that at least five to 15 people had died, shortly before 5 a.m. they were still saying they did not have an official total. They have said they expect to find more bodies as they continue to search the area.

West's EMS director, Dr. George Smith, confirmed after 4 a.m. that two emergency personnel had been killed in the explosion, which occurred at West Fertilizer Co., just off Interstate 35, about 80 miles south of Dallas.

Smith said he could not yet confirm whether three to five firefighters and one police officer who have been reported as missing had died.

Officials said more than 160 people had been treated for injuries at various hospitals, but that number could continue to climb as emergency personnel search for survivors at 5 a.m.

A blaze had broken out earlier at the plant, and the explosion occurred while firefighters were trying to put it out.

“It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonium nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb,” said Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Czech Best Western Hotel in West. “I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows. There’s houses leveled that were right next to it.”

Authorities were evacuating residents of the town of 2,600, including more than 130 occupants of a nearby nursing home badly damaged in the blast that had spread debris across a wide area.

 


  

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