CBS: Up to 70 feared dead, hundreds injured after Texas explosion — 50-unit apartment building ripped apart — “Like a war zone” (VIDEO)

Published: April 18th, 2013 at 6:18 am ET


KWTX: Rescuers were conducting another door-to-door search early Thursday for the living and the dead in areas damaged by a massive fertilizer plant explosion in West that left more than 100 injured and may have killed dozens. As of 4:45, officials say five to fifteen people are believed to be dead. Six firefighters and two paramedics are confirmed dead and seven nursing home residents were missing after the blast according to West EMS Director Dr. George Smith, who said earlier Wednesday night as many as 60 or 70 people may have died in the blast. […] The blast ripped a 50-unit apartment building apart, leaving little more than a skeleton […]

: Mayor: Fire crews were at Texas plant before blast […] The mayor of West, Texas, says volunteer firefighters went to fight a fire at a fertilizer plant about a half-hour before a massive explosion tore through it and damaged surrounding buildings. […]

CBS Dallas:  A fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, north of Waco, has injured hundreds and as many as 70 people are feared dead. However, no official numbers have been released. Emergency crews from central and north Texas have been called in to help respond to the injuries and destruction from the explosion. Into the early morning hours Thursday the plant was still smoldering and active ingredients were still inside. The situation is still too volatile to have firefighters try and battle any flames. Trooper D.L. Wilson of the Texas Department of Public Safety estimates that as many as 75 homes were severely damaged and an apartment complex with 50 units was gutted by the blast. […]

NYTimes: The explosion was so large that people reported feeling the ground shaking in North and Central Texas.

“We’ve got a lot of houses on one street especially there that look like a war zone. They’ve been collapsed, so there may be people inside those houses, either critically injured or deceased.” –West EMS Director Dr. George Smith

Watch the live broadcast on local TV here

Published: April 18th, 2013 at 6:18 am ET


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37 comments to CBS: Up to 70 feared dead, hundreds injured after Texas explosion — 50-unit apartment building ripped apart — “Like a war zone” (VIDEO)

  • Anthony Anthony

    My God, you have to watch this, the poor girl witness lost her hearing during the moment this exploded…

    Unbelievable Video: The Moment Texas Fertilizer Plant Exploded; Giant Mushroom Cloud Stirs Nuclear Fears; As Many As 70 Dead

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 22:50

    • Discordian

      Just awful. We must hope that the little girl's hearing is only partially or temporarily affected. If it makes you feel better, I used to be a local rock drummer in the Atlanta area, and once had a monitor speaker hit me with similar SPLs due to the incompetence of the (rented) sound guy. I couldn't hear out of my left ear for a week, but after awhile I recovered most of the hearing in that ear.

      Let's hope for the same for that little girl.

    • harengus_acidophilus

      What a stupid action!

      "Come on kids, the fertilizer plant is burnig,
      let go and make pictures, maybye it explodes!"

      Very intelligent idea.

      This "Dad" has no feeling of responsibility.
      He shouldn't have kids.

      And yes – after large explosions,
      you will be temporarly deaf.
      That's the way it is.


  • ion jean ion jean

    It also said the explosion knocked out electrical power to part of the community.and a shock wave felt throughout N Texas

    Hmm…fertilizer probably phosphate probably high uranium content (more than 0.3%)

    Hmmmmmm…mushroom cloud plus shock wave plus raging fire equals what?

    What really troubles me though is WHY is there a school and a nursing home (with seven "missing" residents) so close to an industrial mining plant?

    I pray that little girl on the vid gets her hearing back and was not exposed to massive amounts of radiation.

    • ion jean ion jean

      Eyewitness account:

      Another bloodied, shaken resident, identified as local EMS doctor George Smith, told reporters: “There was just a major, major explosion. The windows came in on me, the roof came in on me, the ceiling came in. We lost all communication when the power went out.”

      Buildings leveled, registering 2.1 earthquake…what kind of explosion causes that?

      They are evacuating people in line of the toxic (fallout) cloud…firefighters cannot even get close!

    • Anthony Anthony

      Agreed, yes they said it was heard 80 miles away. The video on it is a terrifying blast.

  • ftlt

    Sad… Something must have been mixed in the fire somehow…

    I remember working for the Agricultural Extension in college and we walked into a small old out of use shed in a rural area where we were doing field trials.. It stored fertilizers and the like…

    My advisor opened the door and shouted at me not to turn on the light and back away… He said, its just like a big black powder bomb!!!… Naturally, I peeked in it..

    Small animals and birds had left dropping with other organics all over and had torn open the bags of sulfur, nitrogen and other fertilizer (potassium) – the contents had mixed together on the floor…. There were 100s if not 1000s of pounds of the stuff in there…

    He reported it and we left the area…

    The story here is that fertilizers are often improperly stored and left unattended… They can be very hazardous and explosive..

    I would suspect this is a horrible accident….

  • many moons

    I wonder what happened that caused the death of the 6 firefighters and 2 paramedics…were they on the scene before the explosion?

  • We Not They Finally

    Nuclear is the worst hazard out there, but hardly the only one. Thousands of chemicals used in industry are TOTALLY UNREGULATED. Now the deadly brew of chemicals used for fracking are not required to be even REPORTED to anyone. God knows what was in that factory.

    • 16Penny 16Penny

      Still, even as bad as this disaster is, it pale in comparison to the consequences of a nuclear disaster with an equally impressive fireball. That is the difference that is important.

      Workers can go in and investigate, another important difference. Once the investigation is concluded, workers can go in and clean the site, that is a difference.

      Even if hazardous chemicals are involved, workers can don protective suits and go in for their work shifts for as long as it takes, without reaching a limit to how long they can work without "experiencing" symptoms of radiation poisoning, that is a big difference. If the temporary power goes out to the "crime" scene the lights go out, and there is not going to be increased likelihood of SPF #4 going critical, that is a big difference.

      I hear your message WNTF, just my opinion that even the worst chemical accident does not stand out from background noise when compared to what we are seeing at Fukushima, and likely what is still to come based on our response to date.

  • dosdos dosdos

    Ammonium nitrate caused the primary explosion. Whatever set it off is up for speculation.

    If you remember the Kansas City Federal Building bombing, it was ammonium nitrate that was used there, one van loaded with barrels of it. Now imagine a factory full of it……

  • Dee Dee

    According to news reports, the firefighters had been on scene fighting the fire for about 20 minutes prior to the explosion. When they realized they couldn't contain the fire, they began evacuation procedures of the area. Obviously, they couldn't get everyone out, including themselves, before the explosion happened. Paramedics were most likely on scene too, as they often automatically respond when a fire is reported. So sad.

  • We Not They Finally

    From a CNN report on the blast:

    "Separately, the plant had informed the Environmental Protection Agency that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, according to The Dallas Morning News. It did so in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.

    The plant's report to the EPA said even a worst-case scenario wouldn't be that dire: there would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that wouldn't kill or injure anyone, the newspaper reported."

    So much for companies monitoring themselves, then telling the EPA that there is "no risk of fire and explosion." And to think that the baggers want NO EPA at all. Short-sightedness kills people. Corporate self-monitoring kills people. That's not patriotism.

  • We Not They Finally

    So I guess that this will produce a groundswell of Texas politicians clamoring for regulation of the oil, gas, and chemical industries? No, I thought not….

  • irhologram

    Balloon Bloq Deployed At Platts Oil & Gas Conference in Denver, CO by Colorado Extraction Resistance.

  • irhologram

    Latest video from CNN. "Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out," said Swanton. A U.S. intelligence official told CNN there is no indication so far that the blast is related to terrorism.
    Most of the injured were hurt by the blast — not by inhaling fumes, officials said. Many people had lacerations and puncture wounds.
    Anhydrous ammonia, a gas used in making fertilizer, can cause severe burns if it combines with water in the body. Exposure to high concentrations can lead to death.
    The West Fertilizer Co. said it had 54,000 pounds of the chemical, The Dallas Morning News reported.
    There is no "chemical escape" that is "out of control," Swanton said.

    BUT THEN the article goes on to state…umm basically? That they don't KNOW if its under control. Quoting:
    Depending how the winds shift, the other half of the town may have to be evacuated.
    The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has a team of 20 agents and forensic specialists assisting, a law enforcement source told CNN.
    The Texas National Guard has sent 21 troops from a civil support team to monitor air quality near the blast, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
    The White House said it is monitoring the situation through FEMA, which is in touch with state and local authorities. Federal authorities stand ready to help, a FEMA official said.

  • hbjon hbjon

    If it was not caused by lightening or tornado, it was terrorism. An explosion of this magnitude must involve more material than can legally be kept in the same vicinity. The explosion obviously involved the use of a catalyst. This was man-made. This was terrorism. There are laws in place to prevent negligence from causing such disasters. We are under attack. This and probably Boston were caused by the same wacos.

    • Discordian

      Most likely.

      Let's see what the MSM do with it. If they use it like a psy-op to generate grief, fear, and anger as they did with Boston, then there is no question that it is a result of state-sponsored terrorism (guess which state).

      If, on the other hand it gets LESS attention and outrage than the Boston massacre, there is a chance that perhaps it was a non-terroristic explosion: an accident. Watch the media and the government: their reactions will inform us clearly of the nature of the event.

    • harengus_acidophilus

      You have NO clue
      about the properties of NH4NO3!

      Simple heating can lead to an explosion.

      So educate yourself and you KNOW what's going on,
      or let it be and TRUST someone.
      Is there someone out there to trust?
      I don't know.

      But, you can trust your own knownledge.


  • irhologram

    About the coincidental drill. "If you live near North Hills Hospital, you will see a lot of activity in our parking lots over the next three days as the NCTTRAC sets up a mobile 140-bed hospital, along with dozens of ambulances, several AMBUS (multi-patient ambulances), and helicopters. This is only a drill and will simulate a hospital evacuation, something that might be necessary in the event of a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or prolonged power failure."

    This hospital is 81 miles from West, Texas where the fertilizer plant explosion occured and mass casualties HAVE indeed happened….just like the drill was prepared for.

    At the Boston Marathon, a jogger said she seriously considered withdrawing from the race because, as a seasoned marathon runner, she had NEVER seen so many ambulances. It was extraordinarily unusual.

    As far as the amount of anhydrous ammonia, they state they had 54,000 pounds of it. @hpjon, would that not be enough to cause the explosion?

  • irhologram

    update !!! fema drill. Due to the events in West, Texas last night, North Hills Hospital and the NCTTRAC have chosen to cancel today's emergency preparedness drill. Many of the same resources planned for the drill have already deployed to West to help care for the victims down there. end of update… This citizen journalist on 04/16/2013 out of curiosity recorded the video asking the question, what are these fema type trucks doing here? The next day when the explosion occurs and he live streams the event for the world to see…. his original posts and other recordings are linked here…

  • irhologram

    So what caused the explosion at the West plant? Something grimly ironic. City University of New York physicist Michio Kaku told CBS News that the water firemen were using to fight a routine fire may have set off a chain reaction of explosions.

    “The [Environmental Protection Agency] regulations say it's OK to have this amount of material, because nothing's going to happen, but there's a rare sequence of events, the right pressure, temperature and right amount of water will set off anhydrous ammonia," Kaku told CBS.

  • hbjon hbjon

    Perhaps OSHA should go in there and fine someone? Maybe we should take a closer look at the facilities that produce high explosives? Today a fertilizer factory, tomorrow a bacon factory. I am tired of all the misinformation that is being thrown at us from all direction. I believe others are in agreement with me when I say that there were some wacko terrorist behind this. Michio Kaku is hanging by his fingertips in NY, what does he know? People are stressed, not many smiles on faces these days. Please keep the criticism directed at me to a dull roar. Ty. hbjon

    • irhologram

      Well, many here probably DO believe events around the country are being orchestrated, but not all would believe its by a wacko.


        exactly irhologram. And another angle that needs considering is how hyped-up we've become, in our responses to the daily news cycle. Once in awhile, you need to step back and allow more 'data' to come-in, before arriving at or projecting 'insightful' conclusions. Sure…there's lot of evidence that we're being manipulated. But I'm also noticing, we're self-manipulating 'our' conclusions, as well. People need to un-Drudge themselves and cease thinking that they somehow know what's happening. Otherwise, if each of us thinks we're somehow privy to insightful analysis, it equally applies that everybody else is in the dark. Reality is, it's all somewhere in between and constantly varies with anyone of us…

    • If A Haiku Hid Music If A Haiku Hid Music

      Everyone immersed in Western media culture, myself included, has been so pumped full of fear of terrorism that it has become the first thing that comes to our minds when a tragedy like this occurs.

      We should not however, let these fears become the foundation of our beliefs, or justification for actions. This particular event could very well have been caused by a person or people intent on causing harm.

      Even more likely, I would suggest, is that it was caused by human error, negligence, incompetence, greed, etc.

      In a nation where deregulation has become the norm and safety standards most often take a backseat to cost-cutting measures, where agencies tasked with protecting the public are operating instead to protect business from liability and sagging profits, these large-scale industrial accidents will inevitably increase in both frequency and severity.

      Blaming 'bad guys' lets the 'good guys' who are SUPPOSED to be tasked with preventing this type of thing from happening get off easy.

      You are very much on the right track about OSHA investigating and levying fines on the responsible parties. Hurting profits seems to be the only way that companies will pay attention. Loss of life is simply an externality until they see it affecting the bottom line.

      • hbjon hbjon

        Some good folks stepped up to the dart board and yielded a few bullseyes, perhaps disasterinterpretationdisorder will weigh in. OSHA may be just for drama if, in fact, they have been captured by the same people who seek to hide the damages and injuries to citizens by industry. Btw I really don't like to believe this.

  • wideawake wideawake

    April 16, 1947…66 years ago..The Texas City industrial disaster, "resulting in the largest number of casualties, in American history. Such was the intensity of the blasts and the ensuing confusion that no one was able to establish precisely the number of dead and injured. Ultimately, the Red Cross and the Texas Department of Public Safety counted 405 identified and 63 unidentified dead. Another 100 persons were classified as "believed missing" because no trace of their remains was ever found. Estimates of the injured are even less precise but appear to have been on the order of 3,500 persons. Although not all casualties were residents of Texas City, the total was equivalent to a staggering 25 percent of the towns estimated population of 16,000. A fire discovered by stevedores preparing to resume loading of ammonium nitrate aboard the S. S. GRANDCAMP at Warehouse (Pier) "O", about 8 A. M., April 16, 1947, resulted in the first of two disastrous explosions at 9:12 A. M., April 16, 1947 which destroyed the entire dock area, numerous oil tanks, the Monsanto Chemical ompany, numerous dwellings and business buildings. The second explosion resulted from a fire in ammonium nitrate aboard the S. S. HIGH FLYER which occurred some sixteen hours later at 1:10 A. M., April 17, 1947" >>>> continued @ vid link

  • irhologram

    Liquid and gas ammonia expand and contract with changes in pressure and temperature. For example, if liquid anhydrous ammonia is in a partially filled, closed container it is heated from 0°F to 68°F, the volume of the liquid will increase by about 10 percent. If the tank is 90 percent full at 0°F, it will become 99 percent full at 68°F. At the same time, the pressure in the container will increase from 16 pounds per square inch (psi) to 110 psi.

    Liquid ammonia will expand by 850 times when evaporating: WHOA, now that's some explosion….But unless this stuf was exposed, that didnt happen. So…the Miccio Kaku's theory would go: there was a leak, which when doused by water to put out the fire causing the temp to rise above flash point (the stuff boils at -28 F) and backfed into the tank, which quickly exploded in volume. Boom. But wouldn't fire have heated the contents just as explosively? What kind of insulation is on the tanks that would prevent overheating?

    Anhydrous ammonia gas is considerably lighter than air and will rise in dry air. However, because of ammonias tremendous affinity for water, it reacts immediately with the humidity in the air and may remain close to the ground. The odor threshold for ammonia is between 5 – 50 parts per million (ppm) of air.

    • harengus_acidophilus

      Pounds, inches, °F are legacy crap!

      Think about: your precious legacy units are defined
      in SI-units, and only the U.S., birma and liberia use them.
      For commercial but not for scientific use.

      Is this a "local pub talk"
      or a talk "to the world"
      with a scientific claim?