The Texas Public Safety Department is confirming that yesterday's blast at a fertilizer plant in Waco has registered several casualties.
So far, at least two paramedics, one policeman and six firefighters have been pronounced dead. The town of West has been leveled, with the blast hitting an apartment complex including 50 units as well as a retirement home.
KWTX informs that 60-70 people may have lost their lives, while over 100 may have been wounded. The blast took place before 7.50 p.m. when tanks filled with highly flammable substances lit up following a fire at the plant.
The apartment buildings in West have been blown away almost completely, as the blast has left massive structural damage and only the structures' skeletons in some cases.
133 residents of the assisted living facility nearby have been evacuated, and reports of injuries at the home are pending.
“We do have confirmed fatalities. [...] It’s going to be a number,” Public Safety Department spokesman DL Wilson says.
“The number is not current yet. It could go up by the minute. We're in there searching the area right now and making sure that it's safe,” Wilson adds, according to a report by RTE.
The Texas Department of Transportation is diverting traffic on the I-35 while search and rescue operations are ongoing.
“I-35 is likely to become clogged as the emergency vehicles come and go, and as the inevitable rubbernecking begins in passing traffic.
“Please try to use alternate routes and leave I-35 as open as possible as the ambulances try to get the injured to hospitals and then come back to help more victims.
“Because of the force of the explosion, many businesses, homes, and possibly a nursing home and school are destroyed or damaged. Power and phone service is out in much of the town,” spokeswoman Jodi Whatley says in a statement.