Dozens injured after blast at Texas fertiliser plant
April 18, 2013, 04:22 GMT
The explosion happened early on Wednesday evening
Dozens of people are reported injured and others are trapped in burning buildings after an explosion at a fertiliser plant near Waco in the US state of Texas.
Firefighters, ambulances and six helicopters have been mobilised to deal with the situation.
Several buildings are reported to be on fire, some of them in neighbouring residential areas, KWTX-TV reported.
The blast at the West Fertilizer plant was reported at 19:50 (00:50 GMT).
The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that firefighters had been trying to put out a fire at the plant when the explosion happened, and that some were among those injured.
The blast happened in West, a town of about 2,700 people some 20 miles (32km) north of Waco.
TV images showed streams of emergency vehicles descending on the site and ambulance crews using a nearby sports field as an emergency treatment area.
Glenn A Robinson, chief executive of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, told CNN that his hospital had received 66 injured people including 38 who were seriously hurt.
"An explosion has ignited adjacent structures to the plant," Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager told AFP news agency.
Unconfirmed reports said a nursing home had collapsed in the explosion and some people were believed trapped inside.
Witness Debby Marak told the Associated Press news agency that she had seen smoke coming from the area near the plant and had driven over to see what was happening.
She said that when she arrived, two boys ran toward her screaming that the authorities had told them to leave because the fertiliser plant was going to explode.
She said she drove a short distance before the blast happened.
"It was like being in a tornado," she said. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield. It was like the whole earth shook."
Another resident told KWTX-TV that she heard several explosions from 13 miles (20km) away.
"It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us,'' said Lydia Zimmerman.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a statement: "We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident.
"We have also mobilised state resources to help local authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene."
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