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Deaths, Injuries in West, Texas Plant Explosion

Fertilizer Plant Explosion In West, Texas
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
Update 6:40 am – 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.

UPDATE 10:12pm: WEST, Texas (AP) — The mayor of a Texas town where an explosion leveled a fertilizer plant says he doesn’t yet know how many people were hurt or killed in the blast.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said at a news conference that there was a fire at the West Fertilizer plant before Wednesday night’s explosion.

The blast could be heard at least 45 miles away and it caused major damage to surrounding buildings.

An official from a hospital in nearby Waco says at least 66 people were taken for treatment there, including 38 who were hurt seriously.

UPDATE 10:00pm: Houston’s KHOU is reporting at least 70 dead and many more injured. The entire town of West, Texas is under an evacuation order.

Texas Governor Rick Perry issued this statement:

We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident. We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.

Update 9:45pm: WACO, Texas (AP) — An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in central Texas is sending 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.

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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