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Deadly blast rocks Texas City

Deadly blast rocks Texas City

Apr 18, 2013 - 10:06

WASHINGTON (PANinfo-icon): A deadly explosion ripped through a fertiliser plant in a Texas city late Wednesday night, killing at least three people and injuring more than 200, with 40 injured are said to be in critical condition.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told reporters buildings in a five-block radius of the plant were severely damaged by the explosion.

An apartment complex in the neighborhood had been reduced to a skeleton a skeleton standing up, another official told reporters in the wee hours of Thursday. About 130 people were evacuated from a nearby nursing home, city officials said.

Eyewitnesses said a huge explosion was heard as far as 50 miles away.“We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident,” Texas Governor  Rick Perry said.“We have also mobilisd state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene,” Perry said.

A spokesman for Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell said: "What we are hearing is that there is one fertiliser tank that is still intact at the plant, and there are evacuations in place to make sure everyone gets away from the area safely in case of another explosion."

City officials said an undetermined number of people had been killed, and that the death toll was expected to rise as search teams combed through the rubble of the demolished plant and surrounding homes.

"We do have confirmed fatalities," Texas Public Safety Department spokesman D.L. Wilson told a news conference about four hours after the explosion. "The number is not current yet. It could go up by the minute. We're in there searching the area right now and making sure that it's safe."

The blast, apparently preceded by a fire at the plant, was reported at about 8 p.m. CDT (0100 GMT on Thursday) in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 80 miles south of Dallas and 20 miles north of Waco.

Muska said five or six volunteer firefighters who were among the first on the scene in the blast zone were unaccounted for.

Wilson said 50 to 75 homes were damaged by the explosion and a fire that followed, and that a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to "a skeleton standing up". Muska put the number of destroyed homes at between 60 and 80.

He said 133 people had been evacuated from the badly damaged nursing home, but it was not immediately clear how many of them were hurt. He estimated that overall more than 100 people had been injured in the disaster.


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