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At Least 5 Dead in Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion

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Rescue workers are searching the smoldering ruins of a Texas fertilizer plant for survivors of an explosion that leveled homes and businesses late Wednesday in the town of West.

Police say it is not clear how many people remain trapped in the rubble left by the explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others.

A police spokesman says three or four firefighters who were battling a blaze at the fertilizer plant when it exploded are missing.

The spokesman says responders are still in the "search and rescue'' phase, as they go house to house. About 80 houses within a five-block radius were either heavily damaged or destroyed.

West's 2,800 residents have been evacuated, including a nursing home with more than 100 residents.

Authorities have not determined how the initial fire started at the plant.



An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety described the scene.

exploded, so you can imagine what kind of damage we are looking at there."

END OPT SOUNDBITE))

Authorities have not determined how the initial fire started at the plant. Patrick Swanton, spokesman for the Waco police department, says the site is being treated as a crime scene, but insists there is no evidence to suggest it was anything other than an accident.

A nearby high school football field was turned into an emergency staging area to treat the victims.

Emergency crews from dozens of nearby towns and counties traveled to West to assist with the response. Texas Governor Rick Perry says state resources have been mobilized to provide assistance to local authorities.

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