18 April 2013 10:56 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--A fertilizer plant explosion that rocked the town of West, Texas, on Wednesday evening is understood to have left at least two people dead and dozens injured, with more victims potentially trapped in the wreckage of buildings demolished by the blast.
The explosion at the plant - run by West Fertilizer Inc and located north of Waco – occurred at 19:50 local time (00:50 GMT) on Wednesday, and is understood to have left two emergency medical responders dead. It has led to the partial evacuation of the town, following a fire rekindling after the blast.
There are also toxicity risks from anhydrous ammonia, used in the production of fertilizer, and fears that another tank at the site could explode.
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which has deployed personnel to the site to investigate the incident, said that local emergency officials have told it that the explosion has led to a large number of injuries, and the destruction of a number of buildings.
Although exact figures are not currently available, media reports currently estimate the number of injured at over 100 people, including local residents, first responders, and firefighters.
It is feared that more are trapped in the wreckage of 50 to 75 homes and a 50-unit apartment complex. A school and nursing home are also understood to have been within caught in the blast.
Waco police currenly estimate that 5-15 people have been killed, according to reports, but there are fears that the final death toll could rise to 60 or 70. So far, at least 60 people are understood to have been admitted to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Centre, Waco.
Texas State Governor Rick Perry has said that state resources have been mobilised to assist local authorities.
“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,” he said.
Additional reporting by Tracy Dang, Pearl Bantillo and Gabriela Wheeler
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