Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Texas explosion: hundreds of casualties feared from fertiliser plant blast

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Nursing home, school and homes damaged, with more than 100 injured taken to one hospital, say authorities

Hundreds of people were likely to have been injured in a fiery explosion on Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, that damaged or destroyed numerous buildings including a nursing home, authorities said.

The blast was reported at about 8pm (1am GMT on Thursday) in West, a town of 2,700 people about 80 miles (130km) south of Dallas and 20 miles (32km) north of Waco.

The Dallas television station WFAA reported from helicopters that roughly a three-block area of West appeared to have been destroyed. A Reuters reporter observed that a nearby middle school and several homes were severely burned.

The air in town remained thick with smoke more than two hours after the explosion, and the area around the blast site was littered with shards of wood, bricks and glass.

A spokesman for the Texas department of public safety, DL Wilson, told Reuters the blast had probably caused "hundreds of casualties" and damaged many homes.

He added that a nearby nursing home collapsed from the explosion and people were believed trapped inside.

There was no immediate official word on what sparked the explosion as emergency personnel assisted victims and doused the flames.

A Reuters reporter observed that a middle school and several homes in the area appeared to have been severely burned.

More than 100 people injured in the blast and fire were being taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Centre in Waco, said the vice-president of hospital operations, David Argueta.

The Hillcrest chief executive, Glenn Robinson, told CNN that the hospital was seeing "everything from orthopaedic injuries to patients that are experiencing serious blood loss".

A White House official said the Obama administration was aware of the situation and monitoring local and state response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Texas governor, Rick Perry, issued a statement saying his office had "mobilised state resources to help local authorities" deal with the incident.

"It's a lot of devastation. I've never seen anything like this," said McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara. "It looks like a war zone with all the debris."

The explosion came two days before the 20th anniversary of a fire in Waco that engulfed a compound inhabited by David Koresh and his followers in the Branch Davidian sect, ending a siege by federal agents.

There were 82 members of the sect killed along with four federal agents. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


18 Apr, 2013

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