News / USA

Texas Governor: Fertilizer Explosion a 'Nightmare Scenario'

Firefighter conduct a search and rescue operation at an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, April 18, 2013.
Firefighter conduct a search and rescue operation at an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, April 18, 2013.
VOA News
Texas Governor Rick Perry is calling Wednesday's deadly fertilizer plant explosion "a truly nightmare scenario."

Rescue workers are searching still smoldering ruins for survivors of the explosion that leveled homes and businesses in the town of West.  

Police said it is not clear how many people remain trapped in the rubble, but said as many as 15 people may be dead, more than 160 injured. Several are missing.

Police said 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.

Gov. Rick Perry (C) speaks during a news conference updating information about the state's emergency response to the explosion and fires in West, Texas, April 18, 2013, in Austin, Texas.Gov. Rick Perry (C) speaks during a news conference updating information about the state's emergency response to the explosion and fires in West, Texas, April 18, 2013, in Austin, Texas.
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Gov. Rick Perry (C) speaks during a news conference updating information about the state's emergency response to the explosion and fires in West, Texas, April 18, 2013, in Austin, Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry (C) speaks during a news conference updating information about the state's emergency response to the explosion and fires in West, Texas, April 18, 2013, in Austin, Texas.
During a news conference, Governor Perry said much of the information about victims remains "very preliminary." He said U.S. President Barack Obama has offered to quickly declare West an emergency disaster area eligible for federal aid.

West's 2,800 residents were evacuated. Authorities have not determined the cause of the disaster.

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

He said, "I can tell you I was there. I walked through the blast area, I searched some houses earlier tonight.  Massive, just like Iraq, just like the Murray building in Oklahoma City. Same kind of anhydrous [chemical compound] exploded, so you can imagine what kind of damage we are looking at there."

  • The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013.
  • Waco Police spokesperson William Swanton speaks at a media conference regarding an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013.
  • This video image shows injured people being treated on the flood-lit high school football field turned into a staging area after the blast in West Texas early April 18, 2013.
  • Firefighters walk next to a destroyed apartment complex near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo taken early morning April 18, 2013.
  • Authories said that the deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant injuring more than 100 people, leveling dozens of homes and damaging other buildings including a school and nursing home.

Authorities have not determined how the initial fire started at the plant. Patrick Swanton, spokesman for the Waco police department, said 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 said state resources have been mobilized to provide assistance to local authorities.  
 

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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