As many as 15 people are feared dead and more than 160 others were injured after a monstrous explosion ripped through the West Fertilizer Co. about 20 miles north of Waco, Texas, on Wednesday. The explosion, which leveled a four-block area around the fertilizer plant, is also blamed for damaging or destroying dozens of homes, businesses and a 50-unit apartment building.
The blast was so powerful it registered as an earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It added that “the magnitude measures only the ground motion, not the air wave, so is substantially less than the true size of the event.”
Rescue workers were searching through the smoldering ruins Thursday looking for survivors. Authorities say there’s no indication that the incident was anything other than an industrial accident.
The Huffington Post:
Morning revealed a landscape wrapped in acrid smoke and strewn with the shattered remains of buildings, furniture and personal belongings. The force of the explosion sheared away the entire front of the apartment complex, leaving behind twisted beams, shattered windows and great heaps of broken wood. Cars were battered as if a tornado had spun through town.
Firm information was difficult to come by in the hours after the blast, and entry into the town was slow-going as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles. Authorities themselves had trouble entering the heart of the blast zone.
...Among those believed to be dead were three to five volunteer firefighters. The many injuries included broken bones, cut and bruises, respiratory problems and minor burns. Five people were reported in intensive care.