Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Texas feriliser plant explosion: 12 bodies found at blast site

Firefighters conduct a search and rescue of an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013.  A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said overnight.  (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Firefighters conduct a search and rescue of an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013. A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said overnight. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Firefighter conduct a search and rescue operation at an apartment destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013. A massive explosion at the plant killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said overnight. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In this Wednesday, April 17, 2013, photo provided by Joe Berti, a plume of smoke rises from a fertilizer plant fire near Waco, Texas. A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Joe Berti)
A firefighter stands on a rail line and surveys the remains of a fertilizer plant destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013. A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said overnight. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
All that remains of home is a fire place as it smolders after it was leveled near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A victim from the West fertilizer plant explosion is wheeled into Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital in Waco, Texas, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)
A victim from the West fertilizer plant explosion is wheeled into Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital in Waco, Texas, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)
A victim from the West fertilizer plant explosion is wheeled into Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital in Waco, Texas, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)
Firefighters us flashlights to search a destroyed apartment complex near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Firefighters walk next to a destroyed apartment complex near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A fire still burns in a apartment complex destroyed near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Firefighters check a destroyed apartment complex near the fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Baylor University student's hold a candle light vigil outside Waco Hall for the victim's of the West fertilizer plant explosion, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)
This video image provided by WFAA-TV shows injured people being treated on the flood-lit the high school football field turned into a staging area after the blast in West Texas Wednesday April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/WFAA-TV)
Firefighters use flashlights to search a destroyed apartment complex near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
An unidentified man injured by the West fertilizer plant explosion is treated by nurses from Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital in Waco, Texas, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)
A fire smokes near a fertilizer plant that exploded earlier in West, Texas, in this photo made early Thursday morning, April 18, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Elderly persons from a nearby nursing home are triaged in a parking lot before being moved to a school stadium following a fertilizer plant explosion Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. The explosion near Waco Wednesday night injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
An elderly person is assisted at a staging area at a local school stadium following an explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
Emergency workers assist an elderly person at a staging area at a local school stadium Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage at nearby buildings and injuring numerous people. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
This video image porvided by KWTX-TV shows some of the injured from an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco Wednesday night April 17, 2013 being pushed across the high school football field to waiting ambulances in West Texas. The blast injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings. (AP Photo/KWTX-TV)
Rescue workers work near a damaged apartment complex after a nearby fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. A massive explosion at the fertilizer plant near Waco on Wednesday night injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin following a blast that damaged buildings for blocks in every direction. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
This video image porvided by KWTX-TV shows an injured woman from an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco Wednesday night April 17, 2013 being helped into a waiting ambulance in West Texas. The blast injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings. (AP Photo/KWTX-TV)
This video image porvided by KWTX-TV shows an injured woman from an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco Wednesday night April 17, 2013 being helped into a waiting ambulance in West Texas. The blast injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings. (AP Photo/KWTX-TV)
Persons are seen pushing wheel chairs in front of a damaged nursing home following an explosion at a nearby fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday.(AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
Emergency workers evacuate elderly from a damaged nursing home following an explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
An emergency worker walks through damaged apartment building following a fertilizer plant explosion Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco Wednesday night injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)
A person looks on as emergency workers fight a house fire after a nearby fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. A massive explosion at the fertilizer plant near Waco on Wednesday night injured dozens of people and sent flames shooting into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin following a blast that damaged buildings for blocks in every direction. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

The bodies of 12 people have been recovered after an enormous Texas fertiliser plant explosion that demolished surrounding neighbourhoods for blocks and injured more than 200, officials say.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt Jason Reyes said it was "with a heavy heart" that he confirmed 12 bodies had been pulled from the area of the plant explosion.

Even before investigators released a confirmed number of fatalities, the names of the dead were becoming known in the town of 2,800 and a small group of firefighters and other first responders who may have rushed toward the plant to battle a pre-explosion blaze was believed to be among them.

Sgt Reyes said he could not confirm how many of those killed were first responders.

The mourning already had begun at a church service at St Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church the previous night.

"We know everyone that was there first, in the beginning," said Christina Rodarte, 46, who has lived in West for 27 years. "There's no words for it. It is a small community, and everyone knows the first responders, because anytime there's anything going on, the fire department is right there, all volunteer."

One victim Ms Rodarte knew and whose name was released was Kenny Harris, a 52-year-old captain in the Dallas Fire Department who lived south of West. He was off duty at the time but responded to the fire to help, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.

Authorities spent much of the day after Wednesday night's blast searching the town for survivors. Search and rescue efforts were continuing.

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