President Obama Issues Emergency Declaration Following Plant Exp - WSPA.com

Debris Litters Area Outside Texas Plant Explosion

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WEST, TX. -

 

 

Debris litters area outside Texas plant explosion

The blast at a Texas fertilizer plant made perhaps its biggest mark on an apartment building across the railroad tracks from the site.

The apartment building's roof was collapsed in the Wednesday blast, its windows blown out and chunks of concrete littered the space between the tracks and the apartments.

Officials organized a visit to the area around the blast site in West on Sunday for a small group of reporters.

They did not allow reporters to see what was happening at the site, though four heavily damaged metal structures were visible from nearby.

At least 14 people are dead and 200 injured after the blast in the tiny Texas town.

Federal and state agents continue to work the scene. Authorities have not yet identified the cause of the blast.

President Obama Issues Emergency Declaration Following Explosion

President Barack Obama has issued an emergency declaration and pledged disaster relief aid to Texas to help in the recovery efforts following this week's deadly fertilizer plant explosion near Waco.

Obama's order Friday night authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in the town of West. Wednesday's explosion at the West Fertilizer plant killed at least 14 people, injured more than 200 others and demolished buildings for blocks around.

After addressing the arrest of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect Friday night, the president extended his sympathies to the community of West and everyone else affected by the explosion.

Obama said he's spoken with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and West's mayor, and he pledged that the community will have the resources it needs to rebuild.

2 more bodies in Texas explosion, death toll at 14

A law enforcement official says two more bodies have been recovered in the wake of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, bring the death toll from the blast to 14.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes did not say where the bodies were found but said more information would be provided later Friday.

He says the bodies will be sent to the Dallas County medical examiner's office for identification.

Reyes earlier announced that 12 bodies had been recovered by Friday morning and that search and rescue efforts were ongoing.

DPS: 12 bodies recovered after Texas plant blast

A Texas law enforcement official says 12 bodies have been recovered following a massive explosion that leveled a fertilizer plant.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said Friday that about 200 people were injured in the explosion at facility Wednesday night in the small farming community of West, about 20 miles north of Waco.

Search and rescue crews have been sifting through the still-smoldering remains for survivors. That work continues. The blast crumpled dozens of homes, an apartment building, a school and a nursing home.

Authorities say there's no indication that the blast was anything other than an industrial accident sparked by a fire. The company has been cited for apparently minor safety and permitting violations over the past decade.

Texas requires sprinklers, feds told none in plant

A Texas fertilizer plant that exploded, killing up to 15 people, was required by the state to have sprinklers and other safety mechanisms, but told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency it did not have such equipment.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality air permit chief Mike Wilson says the agency required sprinklers and safety barriers for the fertilizer storage and blending facility in West. The measures are required because the plant handles anhydrous ammonia, a flammable substance that can be used as a fertilizer.

But in a risk management plan the company filed with the EPA in 2011, officials said it did not have such systems.

It was unclear if state inspectors checked for the safety measures. The plant exploded after a fire Wednesday night.

Texas gov.: Plant explosion a 'nightmare scenario'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in his state "a truly nightmare scenario."

Authorities have said as many as 15 people are feared dead and more than 160 others were injured in the explosion that leveled homes and businesses in the farming community of West, Texas.

Perry emphasized during a Thursday morning news conference that much of the information about victims still is "very preliminary."

Witnesses describe impact of fertilizer plant explosion

Witnesses are describing the impact of the explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas that left as many as 15 people dead and more than 160 others injured.

Erick Perez was playing basketball at a nearby middle school yesterday evening when a fire started at the plant. He says he and his friends thought nothing of it, but then the smoke changed color. He says the blast threw him, his nephew and others to the ground, and showered the area with hot embers and debris.

Julie Zahirniako had been with her son at the school playground. She says the explosion threw her son four feet in the air, breaking his ribs.

She says she saw people running from a nearby nursing home, and that the roof of the school lifted into the sky.

The nursing home was also badly damaged. One man who arrived there before the first responders says he and his wife found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms, amid dark hallways and ceilings that had collapsed.

Police: Unclear how many trapped after Texas blast

Police in Texas say it's not clear how many people remain trapped in the rubble after a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others.

Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton says early Thursday he doesn't know how many people have been rescued since the Wednesday night explosion in downtown West.

But he says officials on the ground remain in "search and rescue mode," going building to building in the largely decimated neighborhood surrounding the plant.

He says he knows some firefighters still are missing.

Swanton says a thunderstorm that rolled through the area early Thursday has helped in some ways, including tamping down chemicals released from the plant.

Up to 15 killed in Texas plant explosion

Police in the town of West, Texas say between 5 and 15 people have been killed and 160 injured in an explosion at a fertilizer plant. 

Last night's blast leveled homes and other buildings for blocks. 

The mayor of West says some firefighters who had been battling a plant fire before the explosion were unaccounted for. 

Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in a fertilizer plant explosion that also injured more than 160 others.

Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning that the death toll is only an estimate as search and rescue operations remain under way in downtown West.

An explosion Wednesday night shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake in the community of 2,800 people located about 20 miles north of Waco.

Swanton says there is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.

February planned burn at plant led to school evacuation

The school superintendent in the area of a Texas fertilizer plant explosion says in February, the plant carried out a controlled burn of unwanted brush, but didn't warn a school nearby. 

School officials evacuated students from West Intermediate School as a precaution. 

Wednesday night's explosion at the plant leveled that same school.

Hundreds injured, Total number of fatalities unknown

Officials say it'll be some time before they know how many people have been killed in a fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, Texas.

Firefighters were already at the plant battling a fire when the explosion happened Wednesday night. It was so strong it could be felt from 45 miles away, and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, raining burning embers, shrapnel and debris.

Officials say more than 100 people have been injured.

The explosion has also leveled buildings for blocks in every direction. Al Vanek, a city council member, says a four-block area around the explosion "is totally decimated."

Some firefighters who had been battling a Texas fertilizer plant fire before an explosion are now unaccounted for.

The mayor of the town of West says up to six volunteer firefighters were at the scene when the explosion happened Wednesday night.

Fertilizer plant cited for '06 permit violation

The Texas fertilizer plant where an explosion injured more than 100 people and killed an unknown number of others was cited for failing to obtain or to qualify for a permit in 2006.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated West Fertilizer on June 20, 2006, after receiving a complaint June 9 of a strong ammonia smell. Agency records show that the person who lodged the complaint said the ammonia smell was "very bad last night" and lingered until after he or she went to bed.

Massive explosion at fertilizer plant rocks small Texas town

The mayor of a Texas town where an explosion leveled a fertilizer plant says he doesn't yet know how many people were hurt or killed in the blast.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said at a news conference that there was a fire at the West Fertilizer plant before Wednesday night's explosion.

The blast could be heard at least 45 miles away and it caused major damage to surrounding buildings. Muska says the blast badly damaged buildings for a five-block radius around the plant, including a nearby middle school and nursing home. He says the nursing home's 133 residents were safely evacuated.

An official from a hospital in nearby Waco says at least 66 people were taken for treatment there, including 38 who were hurt seriously.

 The plant, in the town of West, left the factory a smoldering ruin, caused major damage to nearby buildings and injured numerous people. West is just north of Waco.

The explosion could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles away. A nearby resident said the blast was like being in a tornado because "stuff was flying everywhere." Debbi Marak says her windshield was blown out.

More than two hours after the blast, there were still fires smoldering in what was left of the plant and others burning in nearby buildings. In aerial footage from Dallas' NBC affiliate, WDFW, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.

Authorities have set up a staging area on the local high school's football field, which was lit up with floodlights.

American Red Cross crews from across Texas were being sent to the site.

Residents displaced by fertilizer plant explosion may soon get access to their homes

Federal investigators say residents barricaded from their homes since a massive explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant may be let back in soon.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says it's a "possibility" that some families will be allowed into their damaged neighborhoods today.

Many West residents are growing frustrated from not being allowed home since Wednesday night's explosion. Local officials said this morning that they were waiting on clearance from ATF to update residents. The ATF says other agencies also are working the site.

Meanwhile, a state search and rescue team is pulling out of the town. The chief of Texas Task Force 1 says the team completed a search of the plant site and a final sweep of a devastated nearby apartment complex. He declined to say what they saw, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities say 14 people died in the blast and more than 200 were hurt.

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