Explosion rocks fertilizer plant in Texas, hundreds injured
Updated: Thursday, April 18 2013, 08:05 PM EDT
WEST, Texas (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - An explosion rocked a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas Wednesday night.
The blast happened just before 8:00 a.m., local time, and could reportedly be heard in towns as far as 45 miles away.
Officials say the town looks like a war zone, with homes and businesses leveled.
It could be hours before they know just how many people have been killed in the explosion, but we do know some firefighters and a police officer are still unaccounted for at this time.
Officials say more than 100, and possibly 200 people have been injured.
Firefighters were already at the plant, battling a fire when the explosion happened Wednesday night.
The mayor of the town says that up to six volunteer firefighters were at the scene when the explosion happened.
Many of the injuries came from a neighboring nursing home, and homes around the plant.
The entire town has been told to evacuate for fear of more explosions.
The explosion leveled buildings for blocks in every direction, and a city leader says a four-block area around the explosion is "totally decimated."
Officials added that strong winds are hurting their rescue efforts at the plant.
We've also learned that in 2006, the plant was reported after someone reported a strong ammonia smell.
The plant was cited at the time for either failing to obtain or qualify for a permit.
To give you an idea of the power of the blast, the U.S. Geological Survey says the blast registered as the equivalent of a 2.1 earthquake.