Police: 5 to 15 people killed in Texas explosion

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Thursday, April 18, 2013

1 p.m.

Witnesses are describing the impact of the explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas that left as many as 15 people dead and more than 160 others injured.

Erick Perez was playing basketball at a nearby middle school yesterday evening when a fire started at the plant. He says he and his friends thought nothing of it, but then the smoke changed color. He says the blast threw him, his nephew and others to the ground, and showered the area with hot embers and debris.

Julie Zahirniako had been with her son at the school playground. She says the explosion threw her son four feet in the air, breaking his ribs.

She says she saw people running from a nearby nursing home, and that the roof of the school lifted into the sky.

The nursing home was also badly damaged. One man who arrived there before the first responders says he and his wife found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms, amid dark hallways and ceilings that had collapsed.

9:30 a.m.

Police in Texas say it's not clear how many people remain trapped in the rubble after a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others.

Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton says early Thursday he doesn't know how many people have been rescued since the Wednesday night explosion in downtown West.

But he says officials on the ground remain in "search and rescue mode," going building to building in the largely decimated neighborhood surrounding the plant.

He says he knows some firefighters still are missing.

Swanton says a thunderstorm that rolled through the area early Thursday has helped in some ways, including tamping down chemicals released from the plant.

Wednesday, April 18

WEST, Texas (AP) -- Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in a fertilizer plant 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.

An explosion Wednesday night shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake in the community of 2,800 people located about 20 miles north of Waco.

Swanton says there is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.

Initial report:

WACO, Texas (AP) -- Authorities say an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, has injured several people.

A dispatcher with the West, Texas, Fire Department says the explosion happened Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in the community north of Waco. She says any casualties would be taken to hospitals in Waco.

Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety in Waco, told television station KWTX that DPS troopers have been transporting the injured to hospitals in their patrol cars. She says six helicopters were also en route.

KWTX reports that the explosion at West Fertilizer was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic call from the scene.

(Copyright 2013, The Associated Press)


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