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Live report: Texas plant blast

Updated: 2013-04-18 18:29
( chinadaily.com.cn)


Sgt Patrick Swanton, of Waco, Texas Police Dept, has given another news briefing and again refused to give accurate casualty figures or the cause of the fire at the plant some 24 hours after the incident. It was a rather pointless briefing.


Assuming the West blast does turn out to be an industrial incident rather than a crime, it will be one of many explosions over the years involving ammonia-based chemicals, usually ammonium nitrate, the Guardian reports.

Live report: Texas plant blast

Live report of Boston blasts  

In September 2001, 29 people died in the French city of Toulouse when several hundred tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited at a fertiliser plant.

The worst accidental human-created explosion ever – and the biggest human-made blast of any type before the advent of nuclear arms – came in December 1917 when a French cargo ship carrying military explosives caught fire. The resultant explosion levelled large parts of Halifax in Canada. Up to 2,000 people, including many locals watching the fire from the shore, were killed.


Heavy rain, lightening strikes and up to 60 mph gusts are battering West, Texas as rescuers search for bodies and people try to cope without power, gas or water.18:38

Neighbors of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, had complained as long ago as 2006 of a worrying smell of ammonia wafting from the facility, reports Daily Telegraph.


Up to 15 dead, at least 160 injured in Texas plant blast - USA Today


Up to 15 dead after fire and blast at Texas fertilizer plant- Reuters


Many dead, 200 injured in Texas blast

Police confirmed a number of people died in the fertilizer plant blast and nearly 200 injured in the explosion at a news conference held in the small Texas town still reeling from the tragedy.

As daybreak struck West, the town of 2,700 near Waco in Texas, so did the true horror of what happened the day before and the fear of a lingering poison in the air.

Eyewitnesses described a scene like a war zone, nuclear strike after an explosion, flattening everything in its wake following a fire.

Now, residents worry about the smoldering fire next to another tanker filled with highly-flammable liquids and the poison still lingering in the air from the first blast.

A number of volunteer firefighters were at the plant fire when the explosion happened. They have not all been accounted for. Police refused to be drawn on the death toll, but refused to give exact numbers somewhere between 5 and 15.

Police stipulated this is still ‘a search and rescue operation’ and first responders are going house to house to check for people, but they warned people and the media to stay away from the area as “it is like a warzone” and dangerous.

Sgt Patrick Swanton, of Waco, Texas Police Dept, closed the news briefing by saying the priority remains to “rescue those that need rescuing and help save lives.”



It will not be until daylight that the true horror of what happened in the small town of West in Texas the previous night will the tragic reality dawn. A massive explosion leveled scores of homes and was likened to a nuclear bomb going off. In just a couple of hours, by all accounts, it will reveal the war zone eyewitnesses have already described. Homes crushed, relatives missing, first-responders sick.

And trouble is rarely lonely. The fire next to highly-flammable toxic gases still burns. If the winds change, the other half of the town will have to be evacuated to avoid the biggest concern: anhydrous ammonia, a pungent gas with suffocating fumes that is used as a fertilizer.

When exposed to humans, it can cause severe burns if it combines with water in the body.

And exposure to high concentrations can lead to death.

The West Fertilizer Co. said it had 54,000 pounds of the chemical, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Here, we will keep you up to date on the latest breaking news from Texas.


Reporter Adam Winkler says eyewitnesses describe the area in 3 ways:like a warzone,like a bomb had gone off, like an F5 tornado had ripped through the town. He says the true horror will only be seen with sunrise in just under four hours


Tommy Muska, mayor of West, Texas, told CNN fire crews from all across the state are still battling a fire at the fertilizer plant.


Sgt W. Patrick Swanton is giving a police news conference in West, Texas.He confirmed a number of people have died in the factory blastin Texas, but refused to give casualty numbers. "They are still pulling victims out and they are still bringing people to triage so we don’t have an exact number right now." He says a news helicopter was damaged in the incident."

Live report: Texas plant blast

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. [Photo/Agencies]



Some patients are being transferred to hospitals to Dallas, 130 kilometers away, local TV reports.


The latest weather prediction shows the winds shift to the north and north west with gusts above 30 mph. The meteorologists have also warned residents of scattered thunderstorms.


The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, said in a statement that state emergency services had been mobilized to help deal with the fertiliser explosion. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West and the first responders on the scene,” he said.

The Mayor of West Tommy Muska says volunteer firefighters went to fight a fire at a fertilizer plant about a half-hour before a massive explosion tore through it and damaged surrounding buildings. They remain unaccounted for and fire chief have refused to send any others inside for safety reasons. Other tanks could explode and the air remains dangerous.


Keith Hopkins of Providence Health Center, said they are treating people for cuts, broken bones and respiratory problems from toxic chemicals.


Reporter Brian New of CBS 11 News told the heroic stories of dozens of residents who fled the raging fire and toxic gas. “He says by the light of day the true horror of what happened here will be seen,” he said.


Dozens of firefighters who went to tackle the initial blast at the factory remain unaccounted for, BBC reports. Meanwhile, more than 150 elderly patients have been evacuated from their damaged nursing home next door to the chemical plant.


Yesenia Olide of Carter Blood Care has asked local people to go and donate blood to help with the hundreds of victims, speaking on CBS Dallas.


The blast was reported at about 8 pm local (7am ThursdayBeijing) in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 129 km south of Dallas and 32 km north of Waco. To add to their problems, a predicted wind shift to the north is expected with scattered thunder storms.

Live report: Texas plant blast

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. [Photo/Agencies]



The USGS says the blast in Texas was so powerful it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake across a vast radius.

Live report: Texas plant blast



Due to the Anhydrous ammonia, a pungent gas with suffocating fumes, in the vicinity of the explosion the firefighting operation has been suspended. There are also fears of a second explosion from another tank. D.L. Wilson Department of Public Safety said "It was just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. It is completely destroyed. At least 50 to 60 homes des At least 50 to 60 homes destroyed. We are going back to do another house-by-house search all night. I don't know about dead, but more than 100 injured. We want people to be safe right now not property, we can't get firefighters in there right now. It is still shouldering and due to toxic fumes. There is a danger to the area, when the north wind changes we might have to evacuate the other side of town."


Congressman Bill Flores has called on people to donate blood and pray for the area on Piers Morgan Live on CNN.


Glenn Robinson, CEO Hillcrest Hospital, one of 12 hospitals treating patients, tells CNN he has taken in "66 patients, with 2 choppers inbound, fortunately only 12 are serious, 2 are on their way to the operating room and 2 others will be heading there shortly. We have transferred two children to another hospital. Nine patients have been sent direct to a hospital with a specialist burns unit. "

EMS Dr. George Smith from West Rest Haven said, "lots of homes have been destroyed and we are afraid people are trapped, but we can’t get in because of the chemicals and the fire. I expect there is going to be a lot of fatalities. One explosion was massive and destroyed our station. We can’t get to anyone because of the situation right now.”

Tommy Muska, mayor of West, Texas, which has a population just under 3,000, was on his way to a bar when the explosion occurred, told CNN at least 60 properties have been “flattened” including a nursing home and an apartment building. “It felt like a nuclear bomb had gone off,” he said.


West Texas EMS Director tells KWTX-TV that as many as 60 or 70 people are dead, with hundreds of others injured in the fertilizer blast. DPS Spokesperson Gail Scarborough that 75-100 houses and business were completely destroyed in and around the plant. There are at least 200 people injured with at least 40 with critical injuries. Emergency workers are concerned about a second fertilizer tank near the fire.

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