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At Least 5 Dead in Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion

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.
Authorities in Texas said at least five -- possibly as many as 15 -- people have been killed in the southwestern U.S. state as a result of Wednesday's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant.

A spokesman for the Waco, Texas police department said at least 160 people were injured when the blast ripped through the plant in the nearby town of West as firefighters were battling a fire. Between 50-75 houses within a five block radius were either heavily damaged or destroyed.

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

West's 2,800 residents have been evacuated, including a nursing home with over 100 residents. Emergency crews are still conducting a house-to-house search to find anyone who may still be trapped.

Authorities have not said how the 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 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 Reuters.