Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12 people dead, 60 still unaccounted for in Texas plant explosion

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Officials confirmed with a heavy heart that 12 people died in connection with a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Sixty people remain unaccounted for, around 200 people suffered injuries and three rescue fire trucks were destroyed in the tragedy, officials said.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "With a heavy heart I can confirm 12 people have been recovered, deceased," Sgt. Jason Reyes said at a brief press conference Friday morning. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), later confirmed that 60 people remain missing.

An explosion rocked the small community north of Waco Wednesday night. Witnesses described the town as currently looking like a bombing site in a war zone. At least 50 homes had been damaged when the plant, which sits adjacent to a residential area, exploded.

Residents are not being allowed back in the area, and thanked the search and rescue crews for their "professionalism and heroism as they try to bring closure."

The cause of the massive blast has not yet been determined. Authorities said there was no indication of foul play in the blast at West Fertilizer Co. The plant has been routinely inspected since 2006. The plant stored potentially combustible ammonium nitrate and was located in a residential area.

People who perished in the explosion included paramedics and volunteer firefighters who rushed to the plant to put out an initial fire. It's feared they were engulfed by the ensuing blast, which was so forceful it registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake.

West, Texas, with a population of 2,700 and known for its Czech heritage, is coping with grief.

One man says that his brother disappeared after he went toward the fire to try to save some horses at a pasture near the plant. He remains one of the missing and has not answered his cell phone. His truck has not moved from where he left it.

"He is dead. We don't know where his body is," his brother says. "It'll probably hit me at the funeral."

"Everyone's still shocked," another resident says. "We lost a lot of good friends. I don't think it has hit home yet. Having a drink or two helps level it out."

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)