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.”
- Juneau schools first considered doing this last year after they learned other school districts were doing it in the Lower 48. They didn’t get a chance to do it in Juneau until now.
- In a White House proclamation, President Donald Trump designated 11 a.m. local time on Memorial Day to unite in prayer for permanent peace and asked all Americans to observe a national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.
- The incident had witnesses, which can help investigators determine the cause of a crash in the same way witnesses are helpful when investigating car accidents.
- Divers have found multiple spots where oil could have been released and have since sealed off those locations. The total amount of oil released from the Powhatan is unknown.