‘Like A Nuclear Bomb:’ Texas Plant Blast Killed Several, Injured Dozens

Smoke rises as water is sprayed at the burning remains of the plant.

Smoke rises as water is sprayed at the burning remains of the plant. Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters/Landov

After a fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others, rescue workers on Thursday are still sifting through the smoldering rubble hoping to find survivors.

Here’s what we know at this hour:

- The explosion occurred about 8 p.m. with the force of a small earthquake, leveling a four-block radius around the plant, including dozens of homes.

- Anywhere from 5 to 15 people, including some first responders, have been killed. Others remain missing. More than 160 are injured, The Associated Press reports.

- Police say there is no immediate indication that the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.

We will be updating the story as the day goes along.

UPDATE at 10:20 a.m. ET: President Obama Offers Condolences

“West is a town that many Texans hold near and dear to their hearts, and as residents continue to respond to this tragedy, they will have the support of the American people,” President Obama said in a statement.

He said federal emergency agencies are in close contact with state and local officials in Texas and thanked first responders who worked through the night to contain the blaze.

UPDATE at 9:30 a.m. ET: Firefighters Among The Missing; Still In Search-And-Rescue Mode

Waco, Texas, police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton says the threat was “significantly less” than Wednesday night when a fire and explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant in the nearby city of West. Authorities have no new casualty figures, he says.

“I have heard 5 to 15 people and 3 to 5 firefighters, but none of that is verified,” Swanton said at a morning news conference, adding that it was based on “very limited intel” and second-hand reports.

He said firefighters “are there on the ground still and still in what they call a search-and-rescue mode.”