Wednesday, 17 April 2013

60-70 dead in West explosion 'war zone'

60-70 dead in West explosion 'war zone', A series of explosions sounding like three bombs with fires shooting flames high into the sky have occurred in West on Wednesday night, have caused 60-70 deaths and around 200 injuries in what looks like a war zone that has rocked buildings 35 miles away and leveled homes.

West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as up to 70 people have died and 200 injured Wednesday night in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, north of Waco.

"Of the 200 people injured, 40 were injured critically, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Gail Scarborough said. It was unclear whether or not there were deaths," reported ABC News around 11:00 P.M. EST.

The initial blast sounded like a bomb, according to Waco lawyer Walter Skip Reaves, who lives about 3/4 mile from the fertilizer plant said to be the source of the explosion and fires.

Lydia Zimmerman of Bynum, who was working in the garden with her husband and daughter at the time of the explosion, said, “It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us.”

A fertilizer plant on the 1400 block of Jerry Mashek Dr. exploded, causing multiple fires and subsequent deaths and injuries. A fire started in an anhydrous ammonia tank and spread to the building, authorities have said.

"McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the area looked like a war zone," reports KWTX.

The blasts have been confirmed to have begun at West Fertilizer plant, reported shortly before 8 p.m. CT, say Waco police dispatch operators.

"An unconfirmed report of as many as 10 buildings are on fire including the West Middle School. There are injuries and possible entrapments of people," reports News Channel 25. "A triage area has been set up to treat injured."

Department of Public Safety troopers are using their squad cars to transport the injured at a fertilizer plant in West, a community north of Waco, according to Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the department's Waco office who spoke with KWTX.

Six helicopters were also en route to help.

American Red Cross crews from across Texas are being sent to the site, according to.Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster.

Foster's group is working with emergency management officials to find safe haven for residents displaced from their homes.

First responders are managing the numerous injuries and major damage to structures and vehicles.

At least 10 buildings in the town of West were on fire, including a school next to the plant, ABC News affiliate WFAA reported.

Most injuries resulted from debris thrown from the blast, glass, doors and other shrapnel, authorities said.

Chris Moore, at a Wednesday night prayer service in Navarro Mills about 35 miles from West, said the blast rocked the church.

Freshman State Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan, said in a sympathy statement to victims of the blast, "While little is still known at this time regarding details of this horrific incident, we must continue to keep all those impacted in our thoughts and prayers.”

“As we continue to gather details on this tragic event, I have full confidence in our first responders and stand ready to assist in any way possible," Kacal said.

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