Video of the Fertilizer plant in Waco Texas on Explosion 4 17 2013
The bodies of 12 people have been recovered after an enormous Texas fertilizer plant explosion that demolished surrounding neighborhoods for blocks and left more about 200 other people injured, authorities said Friday.
Three different camera locations and repeats back in slow motion !!!!
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.
Even before investigators released a confirmed number of fatalities, the names of the dead were becoming known in the town of 2,800 and a small group of firefighters and other first responders who may have rushed toward the plant to battle a pre-explosion blaze was believed to be among them.
Reyes said he could not confirm Friday how many of those killed were first responders.
The mourning already 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 Kenny Harris, a 52-year-old captain in the Dallas Fire Department who lived south of West. He was off duty at the time but responded to the fire to help, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.
Authorities spent much of the day after Wednesday night’s blast searching the town for survivors.
The small town is reeling as rescuers comb the rubble house by house and one official laments: “part of that community is gone.”
Police initially said between 5 to 15 people were killed during the massive blast at West Fertilizer. The explosion occurred around 8 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, a town located 45 miles north. It sent flames spiraling high into the evening sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on frightened residents.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told reporters in a news conference Thursday night that the impact of the explosion was worse than he expected. “The devastation is immense,” he said. But, he added the other thing he saw while touring West was “the sign of hope” and “the beginnings of a community trying to piece itself back together.”
A member of the city council, Al Vanek, said a four-block area around the explosion was “totally decimated.” Other witnesses compared the scene to that of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and authorities said the plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city’s Murrah Federal Building.
Debby Marak told The Associated Press that she noticed a lot of smoke in the area across town near the plant when she finished teaching her religion class Wednesday. She said she drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got there, two boys came running toward her screaming that the authorities had ordered everyone out because the plant was going to explode. She drove only about a block when it did.
“It was like being in a tornado,” Marak, 58, said during a phone interview. “Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield. It was like the whole earth shook.”
Marak called her husband and asked him to come get her. When they got to their home about two miles south of town, her husband told her what he’d seen: a huge fireball that rose like “a mushroom cloud.”
The USGS reported that the blast registered a magnitude 2.1, which is comparable to a minor earthquake.
“They are still getting injured folks out and they are evacuating people from their homes,” Swanton said early Thursday. He added later: “At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue.”
Gov. Rick Perry told reporters during a press conference Thursday in Austin that the explosion was a “truly nightmare scenario” that likely affected every family in the small community.
“This tragedy has most likely hit every family, touched practically everyone in that town,” Perry said. “I ask all Americans and Texans to join me and Anita in keeping them in our prayers.”
The still-smoldering fire was “somewhat under control” by early Thursday, Swanton said, adding that authorities were not concerned about lingering smoke.
Swanton said a “small amount of looting” has occurred near the blast site, but he did not provide additional details. He said looters are a “significant concern” to authorities and that at least one person suspected of being a looter was spotting running from a damaged home.