Thursday, 18 April 2013

Deadly fertilizer explosion in Texas 'Like a nuclear bomb'

Deadly fertilizer explosion in Texas 'Like a nuclear bomb', A Wednesday night explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas has left between five and 15 people dead, 160 injured and a 5-block area of town severely damaged according to an April 18 report on CNN.

With the West Fertilizer Co. plant already ablaze, an explosion powerful enough to register as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event ripped through the town at 7:50 p.m.

Sgt. William Patrick Swanton, a police officer form nearby Waco said while no criminal activity is indicated, they are not ruling it out. He estimated as many as 15 could be dead. Two EMS personnel are known to be dead and three firefighters may have died as well.

Mayor Tommy Muska said "There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow."

Muska said that half the population of the town had been evacuated, about 2,800 people. The mayor described the blast like a nuclear blast. It had a “big old mushroom cloud.”

The blast rocked homes 50miles away. Firefighters searched damaged homes for victims. Many of them were nothing more than rubble.

A nearby apartment complex containing 50 units was stripped of its walls and windows leaving only a skeletal structure in its wake. Many of the homes within a 2-block radius of the explosion have been completely leveled.

There is still danger for the town and surrounding area.

"What we are hearing is that there is one fertilizer tank that is still intact at the plant, and there are evacuations in place to make sure everyone gets away from the area safely in case of another explosion," said Ben Stratmann, a spokesman for Texas State Sen. Brian Birdwell.

Officials have turned off all the gas but the other tank could explode. For the town, the danger may not be over.

Another concern is the anhydrous ammonia used on making fertilizer. The pungent gas can cause severe burns on people when it comes in contact with water in the body. The fumes can also be suffocating. High exposure can result in death. The other half of the town may have to be evacuated if the winds shift.

There is a storm head for the area. Predictions call for wind gusts of up to 35 mph. This could cause the direction of the blaze to shift as well as driving the toxic fumes.

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