Texas fertilizer plant blast injures many, heard miles away
A mushroom cloud rises from the West Fertilizer plant as seen from the Czech Stop along Interstate 35 in West, Texas on April 17, 2013. , Photo Credit: KGW / Andy
WACO, Texas (AP) - An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in central Texas sent flames shooting high into the night sky. The plant, in the town of West, left the factory a smoldering ruin, caused major damage to nearby buildings and injured numerous people.
Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in the explosion that also injured more than 160 others.
Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning that the death toll is only an estimate as search and rescue operations remain under way in downtown West.
Swanton says there is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.
West is just north of Waco. The explosion could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles away. A nearby resident said the blast was like being in a tornado because "stuff was flying everywhere." Debbi Marak says her windshield was blown out.
More than two hours after the blast, there were still fires smoldering in what was left of the plant and others burning in nearby buildings. In aerial footage from Dallas' NBC affiliate, WDFW, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.
Authorities have set up a staging area on the local high school's football field, which was lit up with floodlights.
American Red Cross crews from across Texas were being sent to the site.
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