Several Killed in Texas Chemical Plant Blast

Several Killed in Texas Chemical Plant Blast

April 18, 2013 Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 10:43 AM CDT

(NBC News) Rescue crews were going door to door Thursday in the ruins of a small Texas town where a fertilizer-plant explosion killed at least 5 to 15 people, injured more than 160 and destroyed dozens of home and businesses, including a nursing home.

According to the NBC News report:

Those still missing included three to five firefighters who were battling a blaze at the plant when it blew up just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, shaking the ground with the force of a magnitude-2.1 earthquake and unleashing a plume of smoke over the farming town of West.
"It just sucked you in and just threw you to the ground," resident Crystal Jerigan told TODAY, describing how she grabbed her two daughters out of a car and dove through the front door of their house.

There was no indication of criminal activity, although the area was being treated as a crime scene as a precautionary measure, said Swanton, who works for the police department in Waco, about 20 miles away from West.

"It was a huge explosion," he said. "It reached blocks, if not miles, in its devastating effect. ... My guess is going to be that ... we will see the casualty rate rise and the injury rate rise."

The blast decimated a five- to-six block radius around the plant, where two massive tanks held highly pressurized anhydrous ammonia. It wrecked about 50 to 75 homes in the area and a middle school. A 50-unit apartment complex had its walls torn off and its roof peeled back.