| 7.1°C Belfast

Up to 15 killed and 160 injured in fertiliser plant explosion near Waco, Texas

Close

In this Instagram photo provided by Andy Bartee, a plume of smoke rises from a fertilizer plant fire in West, Texas on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. 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

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

AP

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)

AP

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)

AP

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 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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

AP

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

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)

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)

AP

Up to 15 people have been killed in an explosion at a fertiliser plant in Texas, police said today.

 

Between five and 15 people died and more than 160 were injured in the blast at West Fertiliser in the town of West, 80 miles south of Dallas, officials said.

The explosion left the factory a smouldering ruin and levelled buildings for blocks in every direction, and was heard as far as 45 miles away.

It sent flames shooting high into the night sky, and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.

A member of the city council, Al Vanek, said a four-block area around the explosion was "totally decimated".

Other witnesses compared the scene to that of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Authorities said the plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city's Murrah Federal Building.

Close

Scores of people are reported injured and an unknown number of others killed after a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. Graphic shows location of explosion

Scores of people are reported injured and an unknown number of others killed after a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. Graphic shows location of explosion

Graphic News

Scores of people are reported injured and an unknown number of others killed after a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. Graphic shows location of explosion
 

Waco police Sergeant William Patrick Swanton said the death toll is only an estimate as search and rescue operations continue.

The explosion shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake in the community of 2,800 people about 20 miles north of Waco.

Sgt Swanton said there is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.

The mayor of West, Tommy Muska, told reporters the town needs "your prayers".

"We've got a lot of people who are hurt, and there's a lot of people, I'm sure, who aren't gonna be here tomorrow," Mr Muska said last night. "We're going to search for everybody. We're going to make sure everybody's accounted for. That's the most important thing right now."

Dozens of emergency vehicles amassed at the scene in the hours after the blast, as fires continued to smoulder in the ruins of the plant and in several surrounding buildings. Aerial footage showed injured people being treated on the flood-lit sports field that had been turned into a staging area.

Mr Vanek said first-responders treated victims at about half a dozen sites, and he saw several injured residents from the nursing home being treated at the community centre.

Sgt Swanton said this morning the injured were being taken to hospitals in Waco and a triage centre at a high school in nearby Abbott.

Mr Muska, who is also a volunteer firefighter, said the town's fire department went to the plant to fight a blaze at about 6.30pm, and the blast that followed knocked off his fire helmet and blew out the doors and windows of his home nearby.

Close

Up to 15 people have died and over 170 were injured a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. The blast, registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic event, levelled dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of half the community.

Up to 15 people have died and over 170 were injured a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. The blast, registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic event, levelled dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of half the community.

Graphic News

Up to 15 people have died and over 170 were injured a huge explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant at West, near Waco, Texas. The blast, registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic event, levelled dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of half the community.
 

Five or six volunteer firefighters were at the plant fire when the explosion happened, Mr Muska said, and not all have been accounted for.

Among the damaged buildings were 50 to 75 houses, an apartment complex with about 50 units that was reduced to "a skeleton", a middle school and West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs.

Erick Perez, 21, of West, was playing basketball at a nearby school when the fire started. He and his friends thought nothing of it at first, but about a half hour later, the smoke changed colour. The blast threw him, his nephew and others to the ground, and showered the area with hot embers, shrapnel and debris.

"The explosion was like nothing I've ever seen before," Mr Perez said. "This town is hurt really bad."

Texas governor Rick Perry said state officials were waiting for details about the extent of the damage.

"We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident. We have also mobilised state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene."

Resident Debby Marak said she noticed a lot of smoke in the area across town near the plant, and drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got there, two boys came running toward her screaming that the authorities had ordered everyone out because the plant was going to explode.

She said she had driven only about a block when the blast happened.

"It was like being in a tornado," the 58-year-old said. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield. It was like the whole earth shook."

Sgt Swanton said he had no details on the number of people who work at the plant, which was cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2006 for failing to obtain or to qualify for a permit. The agency acted after receiving a complaint in June that year of a strong ammonia smell.

Among those believed to have been killed are a group of volunteer firefighters and a police officer who responded to the fire call about an hour before the blast. They remain unaccounted for.

The town's volunteer firefighters responded to a call at the plant at 7.29pm, Sgt Swanton said, adding that, due to the plant's chemical stockpile, "they realised the seriousness of what they had".

The main fire after the blast was under control by 11pm, but residents were urged to remain indoors because of the threat of new explosions or leaks of ammonia from the plant's ruins.

In the hours after the blast, many of the town's residents wandered the dark streets searching for shelter. Among them was Julie Zahirniako, who said she and her son Anthony had been playing at a school playground near the plant when the explosion hit.

The explosion threw her son 4ft in the air, breaking his ribs. She said she saw people running from the nursing home and the roof of the school lifted into the air.

"The fire was so high," she said. "It was just as loud as it could be. The ground and everything was shaking."

Live video

CBS Dallas Live Stream

 

 

 

Belfast Telegraph