Search for survivors after huge blast

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WEST, TEXAS—A huge explosion in central Texas killed as many as fifteen people and injured more than 160 others. The fertilizer plant which exploded tore through the town, ruining buildings and sending potentially toxic fumes into the air.

 There was widespread destruction to the downtown area, according to Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton of the Waco police department.

“At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue.” He told reporters, adding that the fires were still going on in the plant, but that nothing was currently out of control

Five to fifteen people were killed by the explosion, and over 160 people were sent to area hospitals, although Swanton allowed that early estimates could change. Three to five firefighters are currently missing, although these were first responders from a fire department who initially rushed to the scene before the blast. “They were actively fighting the fire at the time the explosion occurred.” He stated.

As many as 75 homes have been damaged, and several businesses have been destroyed. Swanton does not see any evidence pointing towards criminal activity, although it has not been ruled out.

There had been a smaller fire at the plant, which had spread and hit some chemical tanks, creating the blast.

 

By: Julia Roake

Source: NY Times

Image: NY Times

18 April 2013

10:15am PDT

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