April 19, 2013

Tiny Texas farm town picking up the pieces

The community awaits word on the number of dead after a fertilizer plant explodes, injuring scores.

The Associated Press

WEST, Texas - Rescuers searched the smoking remnants of a Texas farm town Thursday for survivors of a thunderous fertilizer plant explosion, gingerly checking smashed houses and apartments for anyone still trapped in debris while the community awaited word on the number of dead.

fertilizer plant
click image to enlarge

Reuters The remains of the plant continued to burn hours after the explosion shook the town of West, Texas, on Wednesday.

Reuters

West Explosion
click image to enlarge

Maria Galvan sorts through damaged merchandise inside the West Thrift Shop on Thursday.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Initial reports put the fatalities as high as 15, but later in the day, authorities backed away from any estimate and refused to elaborate. More than 160 people were hurt.

A breathtaking band of destruction extended for blocks around the West Fertilizer Co. in the small community of West.

The blast shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and crumpled dozens of homes, an apartment complex, a school and a nursing home. Its dull boom could be heard dozens of miles away from the town about 20 miles north of Waco.

Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton described ongoing search-and-rescue efforts as "tedious and time-consuming," noting that crews had to shore up much of the wreckage before going in.

There was no indication the blast, which sent up a mushroom-shaped plume of smoke and left behind a crater, was anything other than an industrial accident, he said.

The explosion was apparently touched off by a fire, but there was no indication what sparked the blaze. The company had been cited by regulators for what appeared to be minor safety and permitting violations over the past decade.

The explosion rained burning embers and debris down on terrified residents. The landscape Thursday was wrapped in acrid smoke and strewn with the remains of buildings, furniture and personal belongings.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

The explosion ripped open a nearby apartment complex.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

The damaged apartment complex was searched room by room on Thursday.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Elderly residents are evacuated to a staging area shortly after the explosion on Wednesday.

The Associated Press



Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)