As many as 60 to 70 people may have been killed in a fertilizer plant explosion on Wednesday night in West, Texas, KWTX reported. West EMS Director Dr. George Smith told the TV station that hundreds of people were also injured in the blast.
Tommy Muska, West’s mayor, said at a news conference that the exact number of deaths was still unknown. However, buildings in a five-block radius from the plant were severely damaged by the explosion, Muska said.
Cause of the blast has not yet been determined.
Emergency crews, who were dispatched from throughout central Texas, are now being forced to pull back due to concerns of a second explosion. Several firefighters and other first responders have suffered injuries, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
The first call came in at approximately 7:50 p.m. Several injuries were reported at the plant, which is located near Waco, and a request was made for multiple ambulances. KWTX also reported several buildings were destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.
According to CBS DFW, several residents in the nursing home and a nearby apartment building were injured.
West ISD, the public school district in West, announced on Twitter that all schools will be closed for the rest of the week. Authorities in the area are also reportedly advising residents to leave town immediately.Gov. Rick Perry released the following statement regarding the incident: “We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident. We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.”
An official hotline has been created for people looking for loved ones possibly injured in the explosion.