Dozens of additional deaths may have occurred as a result of a massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX Wednesday evening, over and above the five to 15 people already estimated dead by local police, according to local eyewitness sources.
State authorities reported that 133 residents of an assisted-living facility near the plant had been evacuated. However, a local eyewitness told Breitbart News that a much smaller number had actually been evacuated, and that as many as one hundred had not yet been removed. One area nursing home contacted by Breitbart News had only received eleven evacuees, and the other had not yet received any evacuees from West.
Another eyewitness told local news station KVUE: “The entire east side of the nursing home is blown out.”
The precise number of casualties, at the nursing home and elsewhere, may not be known for hours.
A mass casualty ambulance (pictured above) arrived from the Palestine Regional Medical Center in Palestine, TX overnight. The vehicle is considered very rare and was only acquired in January, according to local news reports at the time. Other first responders and volunteers streamed to the scene from communities near West overnight–so many, in fact, that local authorities had to turn some away.
The cause of the blast is not yet known. An initial fire at the plant triggered the massive explosion, whose force registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Sources indicate that some of the initial first responders to the fire may have been killed or wounded in the blast. Some suggested that water used by volunteers in the initial response may have accelerated the chemical fire, though the explosion may likely have occurred regardless, given the scale of the blaze at the plant. Details remain unclear.
The full extent of the damage will only become clear throughout the day, as rescue operations continue Thursday. State Rep. Kyle J. Kacal (R) arrived overnight and told Breitbart News: “We need America’s prayers and thoughts for the people of West, Texas. We need people to participate in the blood drive over the next few days. Seeing the first responders from around central Texas help their neighbors has been incredible.”
New updates will be posted at Breitbart News as new information from West becomes available.