By now, you too have awoken to even more alarming news. The Associated Press reports that a fertilizer plant exploded in a small Texas town, killing as many as 15 people and injuring more than 160 others. Early Thursday morning, rescue workers searched rubble that witnesses compared to a war zone. Reportedly, the blast left the factory a smoldering ruin and leveled homes and businesses for blocks in every direction.The explosion in downtown West, about 20 miles north of Waco, shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and could be heard dozens of miles away.
It sent flames shooting into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents. Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning,
“They are still getting injured folks out and they are evacuating people from their homes. At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue.”
So what exactly happened? Again, details are VERY fuzzy at this point, but authorities believe that between five and 15 people were killed in the blast, but stressed that is an early estimate. The explosion that struck around 8 p.m. leveled a four-block area around the plant that a member of the city council, Al Vanek, said was “totally decimated.” The toll included 50 to 75 houses, an apartment complex with about 50 units that one state police officer said was reduced to “a skeleton,” a middle school and the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs. There is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident. Among those believe to be dead: Members of a group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. shortly before the blast. West Mayor Tommy Muska told reporters:
“We’ve got a lot of people who are hurt, and there’s a lot of people, I’m sure, who aren’t gonna be here tomorrow. We’re gonna search for everybody. We’re gonna make sure everybody’s accounted for. That’s the most important thing right now.”
And here’s footage, compliments of CNN:
Please stay tuned and keep those affected in your thoughts and prayers.