Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Killed 13, Injured 200

PHOTO: Aerial photos from HD Chopper 8 show incredible destruction in West, TX.
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At least 13 people, including firefighters and emergency medical workers, were killed and about 200 more injured in the massive explosion and fire at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, according to officials.

The number of deaths and injuries could still grow as search and recovery efforts continue at the site of the plant, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The explosion rocked the rural Texas town Wednesday night, flattening buildings for blocks around the fertilizer plant. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

Of the individuals confirmed dead, five were volunteer firefighters, four were emergency medical technicians, and four were civilians, according to the mayor of West, Tommy Musko.

Crews have searched the plant, a nearby nursing home, and a nearby apartment building that were all severely damaged. All 144 people inside the nursing home made it out alive, according to mayor.

The individuals who were confirmed dead have been taken to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office to be identified, the Department of Public Safety said.

Approximately 200 people were injured in the blasts and fire, including emergency personnel who first responded to the scene.

Crews have cleared 150 buildings that were wrecked in the explosion, and are working to clear an additional 25 homes. One EMS vehicle and three fire vehicles were also destroyed, the DPS said.

The fire and explosion just before 8 p.m. Wednesday at the West Fertilizer Plant prompted widespread evacuations and dozens of people to hospitals.

The explosion devastated the area that officials described as a highly-populated neighborhood.

"It ranges from broken windows to complete devastation," Waco Police Department Sgt. William Swanton said at a news conference Thursday. "There are homes that are no longer homes."

At some buildings, "walls were ripped off, roofs were peeled back," the sergeant said.

"The apartment complex [near the plant] looks like it was a bombing site of an explosion -- the kind that you seen in Baghdad," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot told reporters. "It was utterly destroyed."

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