Texas fertilizer plant explosion demolishes homes, kills residents (photos)

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With the nation’s nerves already frazzled by the terrorist bombings in Boston and the poisoned letters sent to President Obama and a Republican senator, the country was unprepared to witness a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West that left has reportedly left scores dead, leveled dozens of homes and apartment complexes and prompted a widescale evacuation in the community of 2,600 people.

There is no indication whatsoever that this was a terrorist attack that took place in the town that is 20 miles north of Waco, Texas, but the potentially widespread tragedy has some on edge after the tragic events in Boston. At least 150 people have been taken to nearby hospitals and one official speculated that at least 60 to 70 people may have perished in the massive blast.

“It was a like a nuclear bomb went off,” Mayor Tommy Muska told local and national reporters. “Big old mushroom cloud. There are a lot of people that got hurt. There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow.”

Fire officials fear that the number of casualties could rise as high as 60 to 70 dead, speculated Dr. George Smith, the emergency management system director of the city.

“That’s a really rough number, I’m getting that figure from firefighters, we don’t know yet,” he said. “We have two EMS personnel that are dead for sure, and there may be three firefighters that are dead.”

Residents are being evacuated because officials are worried that another tank at the facility might explode.

“What we are hearing is that there is one fertilizer tank that is still intact at the plant, and there are evacuations in place to make sure everyone gets away from the area safely in case of another explosion,” said Ben Stratmann, a spokesman for Texas State Sen. Brian Birdwell.

Firefighters at the scene said they were concerned about anhydrous ammonia, a suffocating gas that is used as fertilizer.

When exposed to humans, it can cause severe burns if it combines with water in the body. Exposure to high concentrations can lead to death. Shortly after the explosion, more than 150 patients streamed into hospitals in Waco, suffering from “blast injuries, orthopedic injuries (and) a lot of lacerations,” said hospital CEO Glenn Robinson in an interview with CNN.

Here are some of the gripping photos of the blast. 

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