Texas fertiliser plant blast: Death toll confirmed at 12
Many of those killed are thought to have been volunteer firefighters
The death toll from Wednesday's explosion at a fertiliser plant near Waco, Texas, has been confirmed at 12.
The exact number had been unknown since the huge blast which ripped through a neighbourhood that makes up around one-fifth of West, a town of 2,800. But today Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said it was "with a heavy heart" that he confirmed 12 bodies had been pulled from the area of the plant explosion about 20 miles north of Waco.
Just under 200 people were injured by the explosion.
The names of the dead had already filtered through the small, close-knit town. Among them were a small group of firefighters and others from the emergency services who may have rushed toward the plant to battle the blaze which preceded the blast..
Reyes said he could not confirm how many of those killed were first responders.
He said authorities had searched and cleared 150 buildings by Friday morning and still had another 25 to examine.
The mourning had begun at a church service at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church the previous night.
"We know everyone that was there first, in the beginning," said Christina Rodarte, 46, who has lived in West for 27 years. "There's no words for it. It is a small community, and everyone knows the first responders, because anytime there's anything going on, the fire department is right there, all volunteer."
One victim Rodarte knew and whose name was released was 52-year-old Captain Kenny Harris of the Dallas Fire Department, a West resident who raced to the scene to assist local volunteer fire-fighters, despite being off-duty.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent yesterday scouring the scene for clues as to the blast's cause. A recent report submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services suggested the facility contained a stockpile of up to 270 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, and 100,000 pounds of liquid ammonia.
The disaster has echoes of the deadliest industrial accident in the history of the state and, indeed, the US: the Texas City Disaster of 1947, when 2,300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded on board a ship in the Port of Texas, near Houston, causing widespread fires that eventually killed almost 600 people. Just one member of the City’s fire department survived.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...