EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

April 18, 2013

Police: 5 to 15 people killed in Texas explosion

WEST, Texas (AP) — Rescue workers searched rubble that witnesses compared to a war zone early Thursday for survivors of a fertilizer plant explosion in a small Texas town that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others. The blast left the factory a smoldering ruin and leveled homes and businesses for blocks in every direction.

The explosion in downtown West, about 20 miles north of Waco, shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and could be heard dozens of miles away. It sent flames shooting into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.

"They are still getting injured folks out and they are evacuating people from their homes," Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning. He added later, "At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue."

Swanton said authorities believe that between five and 15 people were killed in the blast, but stressed that is an early estimate. There is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident, he said.

Among those believe to be dead: Members of a group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. shortly before the blast. They remained unaccounted for early Thursday morning.

The explosion that struck around 8 p.m. leveled a four-block area around the plant that a member of the city council, Al Vanek, said was "totally decimated." The toll included 50 to 75 houses, an apartment complex with about 50 units that one state police officer said was reduced to "a skeleton," a middle school and the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel David Perdue Wins Georgia GOP Senate Runoff 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed
Latest World News
Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Rescue Workers at Taiwan Plane Crash Site Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Fighting Rages Amid Mideast Truce Push Raw: Secretary of State Kerry in Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Raw: Typhoon Brings Heavy Wind, Rain to Taiwan Today in History for July 23rd Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament
Photos of the Week