Developing: Multiple casualties in Texas fertilizer plant explosion
April 17, 2013
A massive explosion has rocked a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas. Hundreds of people were likely injured, state official says. A nursery home was destroyed by the blast and numerous buildings were damaged.
The explosion occurred around 7:50 p.m. local time in the town of West, north of Waco. A fireball of nearly 100 feet high has been reported along with a massive power outage.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, D.L. Wilson, told Reuters the explosion had resulted in “probably hundreds of casualties,” saying he did not know if any of those were fatalities.
An official number of fatalities has yet to be confirmed but 60 people have been admitted to Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, just one of the multiple emergency facilities in the area.
The explosion destroyed a nearby nursing home, where it is thought that people may still be trapped inside.
Roughly 150 survivors from the damaged nursing home had been evacuated and sent to a community center outside of town, while doctors and staff of the Hillcrest Hospital have been taking in the first wave of burn victims. Fire units were draining water from community pools to douse the flames.
More than 1,000 people are said to be without electricity, according to local ABC News affiliate KXXV.
A large swath of West was “leveled” in the explosion, according to WFAA-TV Dallas reporter Jason Whitely.
West’s population was 2,674 at the 2010 census. The town is located 19.3 miles north of Waco, Texas and 70 miles south of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area.
First responders requested a bomb squad to investigate a pervasive scent of flammable chemicals. Multiple barns in the area are engulfed in flames.
Nine emergency helicopters were reported to be en route to the local high school. Emergency officials were also trying to evacuate a neighborhood near the site of the explosion. Hospital officials told CNN they were anticipating as many as 100 victims.
Police officers were seen transporting the injured in their squad cars.