WHITE HOUSE —
U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday spoke to the families and friends of the 14 people killed in last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West. Obama once again played the role of consoler-in-chief.
At a memorial service at Baylor University in the nearby city of Waco, President Obama offered comfort to the survivors and families of the victims of the fatal blast.
He told the mourners his administration would help their town recover from the disaster, and people across America would not forget them.
“We may not all live here in Texas, but we are neighbors too," he said. "We are Americans too, and we stand with you, and we do not forget. And we will be there even after the cameras leave.”
Fourteen people, 12 of them emergency workers, died April 17 when the West Fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded. Material damage was estimated at more than $100 million.
Investigators are trying to determine what caused the blast.
Honor guard stand in front of caskets prior to a memorial service for first responders who died in last week's fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, April 25, 2013.
At the service, relatives and friends shared their recollections of the victims. And the president offered a prayer for the people of the small town.
“God bless West. May God grant His peace on those that we have lost, His comfort on their families,” he said.
After the service, the president and first lady Michelle Obama were scheduled to visit privately with the families and friends of the firefighters killed in the explosion.
It was the second time in a week that the first couple traveled to the scene of a tragedy to console the survivors and victims’ families.
Last week, the president took part in a memorial service for the people killed in the bombings at the Boston Marathon.