At Least 5 Dead in Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion

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The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early Apr. 18, 2013.

By Jeff Custer – A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas has killed several people and injured more than a 100 others.  The incident occurred Wednesday evening in the town of West, located just outside the city of Waco.

Local firefighters were battling a fire at the plant, shown in amatuer video footage, when the blast suddenly occurred.  An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety says between 50-75 houses near the plant were destroyed, and that many residents were injured.

Erick Perez shot the amateur video. “I was about 200 feet [60.9 metres] from the explosion. We were playing basketball and then they told us to move out, so we moved out to the school and we’re sitting there watching the fire, and obviously a big old explosion happened,” he said. “And then we hit the deck and ran out of there as fast as we could.”

An official with the Waco police department says some firefighters are missing following the explosion.

Many residents of the community were evacuated, including a nursing home with over 100 residents.  Emergency crews are still conducting a house-to-house search within the blast area to find anyone who may still be trapped.  Many homes and business had windows blown out and other damage from the force of the blast.

A nearby high school athletic field was turned into emergency staging area to treat the victims.

Texas Department of Public Safety Official D.L. Wilson says the area looked like a war zone.

“I can tell you I was there. I walked through the blast area, I searched some houses earlier tonight. Massive, just like Iraq, just like the Murray building in Oklahoma City. Same kind of anhydrous exploded,” he explained. “So you can imagine what kind of damage we’re looking at there.”

The Texas Governor’s office says state resources have been mobilized to provide assistance to local authorities.  Emergency crews from dozens of nearby towns and counties traveled to West to assist with the response.